Today was test day. Perhaps it should not, but it surprised me how many students walked in and said "Do we have a test today?". One even said "Do you hate us that much that you would have a test on a Monday?". This kind of comment makes me sad. I wish they didn't view tests as punishment. Or as something to be feared. I was surprised by the anxiety level of some students this time around. Time isn't an issue - they get a second class to finish up, if needed. They can work on material in between the two days - I am completely in favour of them doing more math outside of class. But still, I find myself being something of a cheerleader - encouraging them when they say they have no idea what to do, pointing them in the right direction until that light bulb goes on and they say "Yeah, I got it.". They will persevere. But only because I make them.
The thing about tests with this class is that I will not accept a completely wrong or blank answer. Traditionally, if a student does this then they lose all the marks for that question (or don't get any marks, depending on how you think about it). Often, you know that a student knows more than they are showing you, which must be frustrating for them. However, in my MFM2P class I prompt them until they get to a point where they know what to do. Sometimes that even involves working through a similar example. I do this all in a pink or orange pen so that I know what I have helped them with when I mark (level) the test. The result is that I think I see a more complete picture of what they have learned and are able to do.
I hope that by the end of the semester they will be more confident in their work. That they will be willing to try to answer questions even if they aren't sure they are going down the right path. That they will be proud of all the math they will be able to do and that they can apply some of that to real life situations. It's a hard sell, but I'll keep trying.