While reading these lines some of you may have already got the results of the English examinations your students sat last November or December and there may be some of them who passed and some who failed.
However, before checking out the results and congratulating the successful while putting emphasis on the unfortunate ones, trying to figure out what probably went wrong and thus focusing on their weaknesses, you should also take some more practical steps which may prove to be vital for the next exam session.
A first step to take is to accompany your students to the exams venue even if they are adults! To my disappointment I have experienced many teachers being absent during the exams just because they have lessons at that time!
But could that be an excuse since this is about the final part of a long journey with your students who at least need some emotional support on this special day? Think of a coach who is absent the day the match is taking place.
In the case of the exams you are not actively participating but your being there encourages your students. Not to mention that waiting for them to get out of the room is more than important as you can get and give feedback immediately.
Moreover, your presence ensures that you will be aware of anything that can go wrong during the exam like an inaudible CD.
Another step to take is to avoid bringing books or any other teaching material on the day of the exam as this is stressful for candidates who need to relax.
On the contrary just being there, smiling at them and helping them to feel more secure and comfortable is much more constructive than reminding them of the use of tenses or anything else that they are bound to forget the next minute.
Remind your students to have a good sleep before the exam day. I have experienced cases where students failed the exam just because they stayed up late the night before and as a result they were exhausted on the exam day or even fell asleep!
On that special night advise your students to read a magazine or watch a movie of their choice which will help them take their minds off the exam.
In case they are adults and want to go out the night before the exam, remind them that even if the exam takes place later in the day, they should not stay out late drinking or eating as this may have some ‘side effects’ during the exam.
Avoid administering your students a mock test on the day before the exam; they’ve probably had enough so far, so another one will surely at least tire them. In case you insist on their taking one, make sure it’s short and less difficult than the actual test.
The last thing they want to experience is a rather difficult test that may cause anxiety - something they definitely do not need the day before the exam.
Finally, cooperate with your students’ parents and keep them aware of how important it is for their children to be in a good frame of mind the period preceding the exam. Advise them to be less strict or demanding but flexible and encouraging.
In case you have adult students advise them to avoid any person or situation that would probably ‘charge’ them emotionally, especially during the last week before the exams.
Remember that students regardless age, background or ability, need you as a person by their side on the exam day. It is as important as being with them in class.
Some of your students may pass the exams and some may fail while many of them may forget much of what you so eagerly taught them all this time but what is for sure is that all of them will remember you as the person who was there for them when they needed it.
Apart from being professional being human is what really counts and in the case of teachers being human is a sign of a good and accomplished pedagogue.
Christos Emmanouil, English teacher, consultant, author