Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Pressure of Exams

I had an exam supervision this morning. After the first 15 minutes - three kids had put their heads to the desk, four looked at me at least once and two were sniffling/coughing. The rest were busy writing. Then a student walked in late. Another student came over with a colleague to complete an exam she missed last week.

One student had his head on the table the majority of the time.

My questions and wonderings during this exam supervision:
1) Why do students give up so easily?
2) What can we do to teach them how to deal with exams properly?
3) What do they feel so sleepy in the morning? (I do too so I get that one...)
4) What skills do students need to effectively share their knowledge in an exam setting?

There are two types of pressure when it comes to exams.

Pressure of Teachers
  • Marking load in finishing marking in time
  • Marking load of assessments to finish before the exams
  • Stressing out about students' revision plans
  • Completing everything that they need to do before the exams begin 
  • Preparing students in time for exams
  • Making sure that they have everything that the need before their exams
  • Making sure they have all of their assessments completed prior to going on study leave and if they haven't - then organising students to not have study leave so they can do assessments... or another time afterschool or at lunch to get it done
  • Making sure all of the marking is absolutely perfect so that students get feedback and feedforward
  • Being aware of student's individual learning needs and whether they need special asssessment conditions.

Pressure of Students
  • Dealing with revising at home in environments that may not be conducive
  • The short amount of time in which to sit all of their exams
  • Learning how to prioritise certain subjects according to their ability, awareness of the subject, importance of subject in their futute and also their overall interest in that subject
  • Learning how to manage time effectively and prioritise studying above everything else - particularly before exam time.
  • Knowing when their exams are
  • Making sure they turn up on time
  • Studying not using time to earn more money at work
  • Dealing with pressure from bosses to take extra hours over study break
  • Dealing with pressure from families to take up extra responsibilities during study and exam break
  • Being taken on holiday during exam breaks or during crucial learning time

Having a discussion in the staffroom with our Establishing Teachers :)

I asked them why students seem to mess up in their exams.. some of the things they said:
  • The world revolves around them
  • No motivation or goals set so they don't try for fear of failing or just don't see how the exams are relevant to their future
  • Kids freak out when it comes towards exams
    • It gets built up into something bigger than what it is
    • Seems like a major thing
    • internals you can ask for help
    • pressure of that subject
    • they don't like that subject
    • because of the importance of the exam - if it's not for uni or in life then they don't bother with it
  • They don't realise the importance - or they do and they just give up
  • They have a set idea of themselves (fixed mindset) and need to learn how to push themselves and keep trying (growth mindset).
So what can we as teachers do with them to make sure they have the best possible chance to succeed with their exams?

- Believe in your students
- Revise with them and co-construct revision timetable
- Teach them to be self-regulated learners so that they push themselves to succeed
- Realise that they need to motivate themselves and that all we can do is support them to do the best that they can
- Create resources that are reflective, engaging and relevant to improve their understanding. 
- Make sure we as teachers are making every learning opportunity throughout the year effective and worthwhile.
- Lastly, and yes it's repeated - believe in them. Because if they don't believe in themselves and even if they do - they have someone backing them to keep doing better and achieve to the best of their ability.

That's all from us right now. Love writing blog posts with my colleagues. Usually it's just me and my thoughts. Might need to.do this more often. :) Thanks guys!

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