The trial HSC exams are well and truly in full flight. As an English teacher of 13 years (can’t believe I’ve been teaching for 13 years) I must admit that the pre-trials and pre-HSC jitters get me every year. It doesn’t seem to get any easier. I go through the same feelings of nervousness on the day of the paper. When I finally get to see the question, I begin to think of all the points they can make in their essays. My mind wanders to the discussions in class, to the many and varied activities they have completed, in order to appeal to their different styles of learning. I then begin to think about the practice essays they’ve completed… or should have completed. The synthesis needed in the essays is something that comes with lots of practice. I have also found that catching up with them, both before they enter the exam room and immediately after the exam has really made me learn a lot about how my students learn. It gives me some great insight into their process of completing exams. I have learnt a lot just in the last couple of days. I should probably mention that I have only taught this class, this year. I am new to the school, so my usual practice of having taught the class in year 11 and then in year 12 is not the case with this class.
I await their return to classes. I have planned some great classes to really focus on honing in skills. I love using technology in this way, in order to really individualise their learning at this point. I will use edmodo to create small groups, where I can focus on particular skill development. I will also continue to build knowledge by getting them to work in small groups to jointly construct introductory paragraphs for past questions. It is so important for them to go through the process of talking to each other about how they plan and write the introduction, as well as hearing different ways of answering the same question. It is so vey important. I want to use google docs to create some great revision presentations.
One of the things I love most about teaching year 12, is the time between the trial HSC and the HSC exams. I love it that there are no more school-based assessments to complete, that we can focus on really sharpening their skills. It’s a time of great feedback. Students become a lot more honest about their progress and willing to take on more advice. It’s also great because they can actually see the improvement in their work. It’s also a great opportunity for me to remind them – and me, about the real value of learning… it’s not just about the exam at the end (it’s certainly a big part of it) but it’s also about valuing the journey.