Easter holiday English tuition

revisionbartSpots during the Easter holidays are filling up fast – existing tutees, please get in touch ASAP to let me know when you’d like your lessons as it is first come, first served during holiday periods.  It’s a very short holiday (more’s the pity, I hear you cry!) and I’m already fully booked on some days.  If you’re new to tuition, please remember that this is the busiest time of the year and there is a waiting list for some slots.  Get in touch soon to make sure you can get booked in.

And on that note, have you made your revision timetable?

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Favouritism

047d039e0bdfdda1503c03154f3b8966It’s no secret that teachers don’t have favourite pupils.  It’s unprofessional, cruel to the other children in the class and generally not fair as, of course, all children have the right to be treated equally,  But what I – and I suspect most teachers – do have, are pupils that stick in the memory, even ten or twenty years down the line.

In my first job I had a Theatre Studies class with one particular student who was so incredibly talented that he made me cry during his examined performance.  I taught a boy in an A level English class who used to bring me poems and bits of novels he was working on.  I had a girl in one GCSE class who struggled a great deal but worked so hard that she got an A* through sheer force of will – and she did AS English a year early, at the same time as her GCSEs, and got an A.

All of these pupils from ten years ago, and many from more recent schools that I’ve worked in, stand out for me from the hundreds – thousands? – that I’ve taught.  But what I absolutely love about tutoring is that now, all my pupils are memorable, and for all the right reasons.  Every tutee that I see is here because they want to learn.  They want to improve.  They’ve taken the brave step of acknowledging that they need help with some particular aspect of their learning – even if they’re not completely sure what that is and they need me to help them figure it out – and they’ve arrived, pen in hand, ready to go.  Some of them are very shy, some are confident, some seem confident but are actually incredibly nervous.  I’ve tutored pupils whom schools have refused to teach – who have all turned out, by the way, to be bright, sparky, impressive young people.  I’ve tutored pupils with SEN who are floundering in classes of 30 at school, and who have sat with me, drunk copious amounts of tea, given it their all and done the unthinkable – passed a GCSE that ‘everybody’ said they would fail.  I absolutely love tutoring because every student that comes through my door leaves again more confident and motivated, better equipped to face their difficulties and feeling ready for the next step.  So no, I don’t have favourites.  It wouldn’t be fair.  They’re all brilliant and I remember them all with a fierce pride.

When exams go wrong…

exam-stress-cartoon

Sometimes, after months of hard work, hundreds of timed essays, a carefully planned revision timetable and more coffee than is good for you, it goes wrong anyway.  The exam board suddenly changes the question style, or you sleep really badly the night before, or you’re ill, or you just panic – and it feels like the end of the world, because you put in all. that. work. for. nothing.  Add in the pressure of having to get up tomorrow and do an entirely different exam, or, worse, college places hanging in the balance or university applications looming, and some students find themselves facing very real – and very upsetting – stress.

So what can you, the student, do about it?  Nothing – and everything.  Nothing, because what’s done is done.  In that sense, you need to do your utmost to put it behind you as soon as possible because you don’t want the upset to affect tomorrow’s exam, or tonight’s revision for that matter.  Shake it off, go for a run, play a computer game, have a long bath – do something that will take your mind off it for the next hour or so.  Then put the offending books out of sight (but don’t bin them!), get the next lot out, and crack on.

(Parents often find that whatever they say in this situation is entirely wrong – however lovely you are about it, a very distressed student may well interpret your concern and care as an indication that either you didn’t think they were clever enough in the first place, or you don’t understand how upset they are, or why.  They’ll realise you don’t mean any of these things eventually, but in the immediate aftermath, it may be best to offer hugs while they’re crying and to just listen to their fears with plenty of tea and cake on hand.)

And then, as I said, you can do everything.  You can use this upset to fuel your determination to get through the rest of your exams.  Once they’re over you can talk to your teachers and make a plan for next year – maybe a resit, maybe not.  Maybe your coursework result will be enough to pull you through.  Maybe your chosen university will accept you even if you drop a grade.  Maybe an AS resit will be far easier by the time you’ve done a whole year of A2 work.  There are lots of maybes out there, and they don’t involve punishing yourself.  If you want to resit, great, do it with bells on!  If you don’t, make a new plan.

Because here’s a secret.  Exams are, really, totally, enormously important.  While you’re doing them.  Next year, this lot won’t matter so much.  And the year after that, they’ll hardly matter at all.  Your SATs are the most important exams you’ll ever do…until your GCSEs.  And your degree is the most important qualification you’ll ever get…until you can write on your CV that you’ve got X years of experience in the job.  There is ALWAYS a way forward.  There is ALWAYS something new around the corner. There is ALWAYS a next stage.  And yes, right now, your exams are important, and it would be foolish to say otherwise. But one day, a few maybes away, noone will give two hoots what you got in your A levels because they’ll be far more interested in you being able to explain an example of how you once overcame adversity, and they might even give you a job if they like your answer.  Or, maybe, you’ll be the one conducting the interview.  Maybe maybe maybe…