Thursday, 15 August 2013

Things to do on Results Day

Hello.  It's that time of year again - the fortnight of horrible Thursdays.  Results day scares me a great deal.  It is partly the importance of the grades on the students: have they achieved what they have to achieve in order to progress through life happily and fulfilled? This weighs heavy on any teacher's mind this next two weeks, and yet is probably outstripped by the more selfish, yet arguably more important (to the teacher themselves) question of 'how do these results reflect my ability?'  Like it or not, the grades awarded to students after one or two years of teaching from you do reflect your teaching ability.  Yes yes, I understand the old adage about horses and drinking but still - ignoring your input on their grades is foolish and would lead to a logical conclusion of removing teachers altogether if gone the full distance.  We can bleat as much as we like about the little terrors ignoring us or not revising, but ultimately, your ability to teach and aid them learn has a huge, huge effect on their results.

So this is quite a lot of pressure.

I am terrified of letting the students down, you see.  It keeps me awake at night, sometimes - the very idea that I could have explained something more clearly, or used a more effective activity to practice a skill.  This is the torture of any professional left to their own devices - I'm sure doctors and lawyers recognise the feeling.  It's an integral part of reflective practice and is, therefore, ultimately a good thing.  However, it still remains a fact that the whole thing is horribly stressful.

So, here's my tips on what to do on results day 1 or 2 (you know what I mean):

1. Only go to one of them, unless you have responsibility in that area.  This is obvious - don't go through it twice if you don't need to.  I know this seems a little uncaring, or even unprofessional, but it isn't.  Your presence on results day is far from vital, especially if you only teach Year 12 - you'll see them in September.  Wait for the email and do your analysis in comfort at home, at your own pace.  This will give you the breathing space you need to work out how the students did and what comes next.

2. When you do go in, spend most of the time talking to the students.  This is the only worthwhile way to spend results day if you're in school.  Analysis and worrying can come later at home with a glass of wine.  If you trouble yourself to go into school, you're only really doing it to see the kids, so chat with them, advise them, console them if need be.  That's the way forward.

3. Be on holiday.  If you really can't cope with the stress in the midst of your mega-downtime, then wait until September before you engage with it at all.  Unless you're a HoD or higher, you can get away with this - do it if the alternative is losing your mind.  Being away (preferably abroad, away from the British media) is the perfect way of making it so you don't even know it's results day.  It's not cowardice - just self-preservation.

4. Do not read the papers on the day.  Don't even be tempted.  It'll only make you angry and belittle your years of hard work as they bleat about rising standards, as if they're a bad thing.  Honestly, it's as if all that money and expertise spent on improving education over the last 20 years was meant to yield no results at all, isn't it?  The logic of the papers (and the Daily Hate Mail in particular) is astonishing.

So there we are, four ways to help maintain your professional sanity today and next Thursday.  I do hope they help.

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