Today I was having a ‘pep’ talk with my yr 11 science class about their practice exams in 2 weeks. About how they really need to give them a good go so that 1) they know how much more of a good go they need to put in and the end of the year and 2) if they honestly give it a good go and it goes to custard, we have some time to try and find some different strategies for them to achieve success in the externals.
It lead to an interesting discussion around ‘why do we do so much other stuff in yr 9 and 10 – really we just need to start working for NCEA exams then’. When a student said this, I died a little inside. Part of it was justified in a way – the ‘extension’ yr 10 class has the opportunity to sit some L1 stuff in yr 10. So a kid in the not extension class was feeling aggrieved that as a ‘not smart kid’, why was he given less opportunities to get his credits? He kind of has a point from his point of view, which was further soul destruction.
I rebutted with learning to learn, scaffolding, maturity levels, having some fun etc and also ‘it isn’t all about the credits you know…’. To which, one kid replied
‘Can you tell that to my parents please.’
All of my kids in this class (I’m lucky, it is a small class) are awesome human beings. Many already have part times jobs doing this or that, some are in the senior sports teams or are involved with cultural groups. They have learned this year to question and challenge (in part the reason for this discussion…..). I have no doubt they will all go on and be perfectly reasonable contributing members of society…. whether they pass L1 sci or not. But they, their families and perhaps even me at the moment are all about the credits.
Of course, credits do effect subject choices, and we spent some time talking about what entry requirements there are etc. I also talked about how L2 is a step up (especially for Chemistry, many of our students struggle for the first little bit in yr 12….). Some kids are already altering their career choices because this or that subject it too hard, or I’m going to take that english course because it has no externals. And it seems that all of their parents are at them about getting down to work and getting some credits.
So I don’t know what the best practice is here? Do I back off and give them space? Keep up the pep talks (I’m so sick of myself….) What is the purpose of these exams? I mean, what are the kids learning? But it is part of my job to get these kids passing the damn things – I even got asked today if it reflected badly on me if they failed (I said I got paid regardless and valued them more as people than exam stats… not sure how much they believed me….)
And how do I stop having these conversations with myself. Despite my best efforts and trying some different approaches, push has now come to shove, and the credit hunt is on. I am lecturing these kids on how to get through the exams 😦
It is only a little comforting to know that regardless of credits, these kids will be ok. They are good kids. I guess that is really what I should be telling their parents…. and what I need to keep telling myself