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Getting Over the Final Hurdle

It’s hard to believe that exams will soon be upon us.

Here at the College, much work has been done to build a learning culture in which each student strives for their personal best. At the beginning of this year we celebrated Academic Excellence. Homeroom and formation teachers have spoken with students about their learning goals and strategies for improvement.

All grade levels from Year 7 to 11 have been involved in study skills sessions with presenters from Elevate Education. Junior school students have been learning about learning, particularly focusing on the dispositions of good learners and adopting a growth mindset. Class room teachers have built their lessons around clear learning intentions and have identified specific success criteria that students can use to guide their revision. In other words, we have begun with resolution and intention.

Despite this intentional planning, it would not be unusual for some students to be feeling the pinch. Just a couple of days ago, I was approached by a student who suggested he needed help as he was feeling a level of anxiety about his upcoming assessment. Having spent some time chatting to him about what was causing him the greatest stress, it became clear that his problems came from a single derivative – he simply hadn’t been doing sufficient work nor was he organised enough.

Crippling anxiety is never healthy, but some level of pressure in the lead up to an assessment period can be healthy. For this young man, there was definitely a learning in our conversation. He articulated a great many things that he would do differently next term, and we undertook together, to do some more work on backward planning from future assessment and study scheduling. He also could articulate a management strategy to help him climb out of his own learning pit. The lesson here is clear. Assessment blocks can be daunting, but they can also help students clarify the learning dispositions that they need to grow in order to move forward.

To help students manage their assessment load, all students received an assessment calendar early in Term One. By the end of this week all students will have received their specific examination schedule, outlining both the timing and rooming for examinations. These schedules also stipulate the expectations of students in exams, including what is permitted in the examination room.

Can I ask all parents to ensure that students have familiarised themselves with those stipulations, such that they avoid bringing in unnecessary equipment including smart phones and watches. Observation of these conditions will assist the College in ensuring the integrity of the assessment process. Can I also remind parents of Year 11 students that normal classes will not run during the Examination Block. Instead, Year 11 students are permitted to study either from home or in a designated study room at the College.

Kath Little
Dean of Learning
littlek@atc.qld.edu.au