Mindfulness for Test Prep and Teacher Self-Care
Beyond the Content: Mindfulness as a Test Prep Advantage
By Logan Thompson
(Simon & Schuster, 2019 – Learn more)
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
While this book about mindfuless takes the approach of overcoming test anxiety and preparing for high stakes and not so high stakes tests, it is not limited to this application.
Author Logan Thompson offers a quick read that will likely leave you feeling as though you have been to a high-quality counseling session where you were given a prescription consisting of a plethora of strategies and activities to hone your skills to be your best self in all circumstances.
Thompson, a test prep consultant with a background in meditation studies, gets to the heart of how our brains set us up for less than stellar performances, and how these responses go back to an evolutionary need for survival that usually does not exist any longer.
I read this book just before/during our exam review week, and I tried just a couple of the nuggets with my students, who both enjoyed them and used them to their benefit as they (6th graders) took their first ever exams.
Thompson skillfully ties brain science and psychology research into understandable analogies and then follows them up with quick exercises that can be used to help us reach our greatest potential – all with the help of several easy-to-remember acronyms.
He also talks in specifics, such as naming some of the most troublesome “passengers” that visit us (Told Ya So, Compare Bear, Later Gator, DisCount, Knot Enough to name a few), how to recognize the signs that each is there (in our mind), what positive message they were intended for, and how to react to them in a modern context.
There is a lengthy section on mindfulness, which Thompson connects to “dealing with our passengers” as well as the reason we tend not to practice mindfulness. He also draws on his own two-year residency in a meditation center to help us learn how to practice effectively. The reader will find many quick activities to address a variety of focusing challenges we may face and to get us practicing regularly so that we may call upon these skills when needed – those high stress situations like high stakes tests, for instance.
Overall, this is an excellent quick read, but not just for helping your students overcome test anxiety. It is helpful for that, but I think it is also a great book to help with our own teacher self-care, a topic of growing importance as teachers become more and more stressed within the education system.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is currently a Middle School Gifted Math and Science teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees in her school district, works closely with the local university, and writes curriculum. She is also a professional development consultant and previously served as an Exceptional Student Education Specialist and as a mentor. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology.