As already mentioned, results day makes teachers feel worried, flustered, have sweaty palms and sleepless nights. Results day for students, has a similar effect – but there is one main difference. It means moving on.
As a teacher, you are simply worried about how well your students have done, how well the department has done, and finally the school. The harsh reality of life though, means that all the students are worried about, is themselves. They now have the excitement of college or university to look forward to.
Having only left school 6 years ago myself, the feeling the night before results day is definitely still memorable. For GCSEs, I wasn’t overly worried – I had to get 5 A*-C in the bag, which out of 10 subjects was pretty straightforward. However, 2 years later, I found myself much more stressed when waiting for my A-Level results. I remember it hitting me at about 11pm the night before, that this was it. If I mucked up my A-Levels, I muck up the next stage of my life.
Teachers obviously know this throughout school, sixth form or college – and often tell kids of the importance of good results and getting your head down. But now as a teacher, I’m wondering how we make this message more realistic? Yes, the students will nod and smile at you, yes they think they are working hard enough, and yes of course they are going to sail through. But that’s not always the case.
In my experience, leaving school with a set of great GCSEs – does NOT guarantee that you will breeze through college. In fact, I had a very different experience, where for the first time in my life, lessons, and the education system, were really hard.
No longer are you being spoon-fed, no longer does the teacher make your lessons engaging and interactive – they become more like lectures and less like lessons, each and every day. At 16, this is pretty hard to cope with. I only have experience of a sixth form college (not attached to a school) – as is the norm where I come from. This means that everybody moves on to a new place post-16, and in my experience – by Christmas of that year – a lot of students are drifting.
So how do we control what happens next for the students? How do we guide them to know what to expect at college? College is so vital for the rest of your life, the stepping stone to university and a whole new ‘you’ – but something that I feel is handled in completely the wrong way.
I remember being told about how college was going to give me ‘so much independence’ and you’ll feel ‘so grown up’.
I felt pressure to do well, I felt alone with no one helping me, I still got told off if I turned up late or forgot my homework, and I was completely shocked at just how clique-y and petty people were who attended my college. I also remember feeling totally deflated at how little you got to know your teachers, they no longer feel like somebody that you can speak to, or rely on, or ask for help from – instead they appear to be manufactured lecturing machines, who give their lesson and move on to the next one. And 2 years really doesn’t give you a chance to build a relationship with a teacher, especially when you change to someone new after the first year.
Consequently, college left me feeling flat. It was not the “best years of my life” and I certainly didn’t do as well as I should have done.
So this leaves me wondering, is this because we – as secondary school teachers – give students too much help, care and attention? Or is it because college teachers are not handing out enough care, help and attention? Whichever way round it is, I reckon something needs to change – because I know for a fact – I was not the only one feeling this way as I waited, nervously, for my A-Level results to come through.