When Students Get it Right


Just when you feel exam season is over, another one swiftly comes along. Cue panic, questions and panic once more.

In my short time so far as a teacher, I’ve tried to better myself with each set of exams I’ve faced. ‘Could I make them feel more at ease? Could I explain it a little easier?’, are the questions I usually ask myself.

People who know me have heard stories of how I was never an exam student. I never fell into the category of the student who stayed up the previous night, juiced up on Red Bull; I can’t even remember an exam I was truly ‘nervous’ to face. I see myself in quite a lot of my students, past and present. That sociable yet enthusiastic student who more times that not ended up with the average marks – you’re reading his blog.

We’ll always have students like this. We’ll never get rid of the student who failed to bring his A game on exam day. Take one class of 15 for example. Amongst the 15 sets of ears, you can be sure at least one is, to put it mildly, away with the fairies.

This year has been my second year in Montequinto, so learning on how to improve on how I set my students up for their exams has been my number one developmental goal. Challenge them, without making them hate you, has been my mantra – particularly when it came to their writing exams, which is arguably one of the few exam skills you can prepare the most for in advance.

Reminded of my results and some of the writings I had to correct the previous year, I set about reinventing the way I taught them, and attended more workshops on the matter. I wasn’t going to allow a repeat of last year’s bland, dull writings – and that’s before we get to some students’ allergic reaction to paragraphing.

We started preparing in earnest. By the end I’d say a fair share of them had had enough of the constant reminders of how to write A and how many paragraphs B should have. But, on reflection, would I have done it any differently? Based on how few who said they were nervous beforehand, I’m going to say no.

I got up the morning after the exams, and brewed some coffee. I remembered the previous year, dreading that reading of the first composition. I tend to go for one of the weaker students first, intrigued to see how well they had done. The satisfaction I had upon reading instantly vindicated the previous 3 months.

This was a student who once came to me with a paragraph for a question that asked for 150 words. This was a student I had to have a word with before class in order to explain if it was repeated I’d have to get his mother involved. This too was a student I struggled to see doing what he did that May evening. In the end, he listened. He applied himself, and he managed to more than just scrape a pass.

Fair play to him.

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