On wishing my students good luck

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Well, here we are again.  It feels like yesterday when we were just meeting and sussing each other out. Like two large walruses upon first seeing each other;  suspicious but curious about each others provenance, probing each other for strengths and weaknesses, looking for a way in, seeking a connection.

You quickly realised I have a penchant for long-winded stories that often do not go anywhere and I for how different you are from each other and every other class that I have ever taught.  No two classes ever feel the same and nor should they be treated so.  The dispositional and situational factors vary so wildly that each class, each lesson has a microclimate of its own.  A climate that can turn on a sixpence and defy even the predictive powers of Tomasz Schafernaker.  I hope I have made more fair weather than fowl.

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It is the challenge of this classroom dynamic that keeps me coming back for more, I always want to know what could happen next week (no spoilers).  Just like the eponymous Wizard of Oz, I am frantically pulling levers behind the scenes to see what you will make of the spectacle in front of you.

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I have spent weeks scanning the room, reading your body language, asking you questions, assessing your learning and wondering how to push you further.  I hope I got it right more times than I got it wrong.  Your weekly essays display a real sense of a young person getting to grips with this subject, learning how to write academically and finding an authentic voice.  This is real progress over time, do not be distracted by the numbers and letters on your progress data.  Hold on to that journey, remember the struggle and remind yourself how you got through it.

There is a weak correlation between intelligence and A-level grades, the key to success is resilience, grit and determination.  In my experience, those who work hard, listen to diagnostic feedback and seek teacher support do well.  Here is a reminder of grit from Angela Lee Duckwork.

I do not really believe in exam luck, to a certain degree you create your own luck in exams.  It is about the hard work you are putting in over the next few days but it is also about the work you have done over the last few months.  Be comforted by the thought that you know more than you think but do not become complacent.  You must stay on course and commit to your revision plans, do not be blown off course by the temptations of social media, television and procrastination.

Make sure each subject has a fair share of your time and do not rob Peter to pay Paul as you will not be able to cram it all the night before.  Remember all we have discussed about spaced learning and planned revision.  The sunny days are difficult but believe in deferred gratification, short term pain for long term gain.  You have a glorious 6.5 weeks holiday in front of you, it will be here soon enough.

In the stories that are told about education, we like to think that the ‘hero’ teacher can step in and save the day.  Whilst I think what we do as teachers is important, this idealisation is uncomfortable and denies the more mundane reality.  Nothing would happen unless you meet us halfway with a curiosity and desire to learn; we can engage, enthuse, inspire and explain but we are dead in the water without your intrinsic motivation.  Thank you for meeting me halfway and bringing so much of yourselves to the lessons.  Now it is time to show others just what you can do.

I know you are all more than capable of success in this exam, let the examiners see how brilliant you are.  I am the lucky one, I have got to see it throughout the year.

Good luck classes of 2015-2016, but I know deep down you won’t need it.

Mr H.

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