“He wants us to just think about all the good things and he wants us to just think about how we can do it and that we have the potential to do it,” Johnston said. “We leave behind negatives like I can’t do this, it’s hard, will I finish on time, will I go too slow, will I go too fast?”
Her classmate Gabe Ward like Maddie sometimes deals with test anxiety.
“I was noticing that every once in a while on a test or when I was doing homework I would wonder how I could control being stressed out,” Ward said.
Bloomfield Central School District started mindfulness training this school year hoping to ease student stress and improve common core performance. The district got a grant to hire Bani Aello to teach students and teachers her techniques.
“It’s really changing our position on how we deal with stress how we see stress and then give them the tools to cope with it,” Aello said.
Those tools include positive affirmations, meditation, and synchronized breathing. Bloomfield Middle School, guidance counselor, Amy Conklin says teachers and students both say they notice a difference.
“This year when we did the mindfulness and some breathing and relaxation techniques before the test one of our 6th grade teachers said this is the first year he hasn’t had students crying before the test,” Conklin said.
School officials hope with the help of mindfulness training, those tears and fears are a thing of the past in turn, improving student success.
“I just think don’t think about the negatives, I push those away and I focus more on the positive thoughts and what could go right,” Ward said.
Maddie Johnston says she plans to use these techniques as long as she has to take tests.
“It pushes me to do better and I actually hear [my teacher’s] voice in my head,” Johnston said.
The language arts portions of the state tests are done, and the math test happens next month, then science. Bloomfield school officials hope to expand this training to other students taking the test in upcoming school years.