16 Nov 2010
There is a good chance that some of your students sitting the December exams may be attempting them after a previous failure. Initially, their lack of success may have come as a blow to you. In this article, I’ll offer some advice on how you and your students can ensure that a pass is achieved at the next exam session.
Firstly, take a step back and reflect. Of course, as teachers we want all our students to do their best, apply what we have taught and pass each and every exam they attempt. But, it’s important to see the reality of the situation and actually see the positive side of failing. You may think this sounds absurd. What could possibly be positive about your students failing? Lots.
Positive mental attitude
Have you ever noticed that you always seem to learn more when you make a mistake rather than when you don't? In the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne's Father tells his son 'Why do we fall down, Bruce? So we can learn how to pick ourselves up again.' I want you to learn why your students fell, so you can help pick them up. Focus on the fail and truly understand why it happened. There is a reason; there is always a reason. A few possibilities are that: A - your students didn't have the motivation and drive to learn the material sufficiently or B - perhaps a different style of teaching may have been required for that particular group of students, or maybe its C - your students needed more time to revise and psychologically prepare for the big day. Whatever it was, accept it, learn from it and go into the next exam session with a resolve to help each and every one of your students pass with confidence.
If the issue was that your students aren't focused enough, try and find creative ways to engage their interest. Different tactics include 'friendly competitions' at the end of each lecture, whereby you ask exam-like questions under time pressure and incentivise students who answer correctly. I find these types of exercises tap into students' natural competition and they are so motivated to 'win' and out-perform their peers that they do better when there is something at stake, even if its pure ego.
If you are struggling to get your students to attend the mock exams, try and schedule them on a day when you would normally lecture and 'surprise' them by whipping out the mock. I am sure if students realised the value of participating in mock exams and how critical they really are in helping to prepare them psychologically and academically for the big day they may be more inclined to show up.
Finally, its always important to turn the light on ourselves. Did we as teachers do everything in our power to provide the best learning experience to our students? Ask yourself some searching questions and be honest with your answers, then there may be scope for you to change your game plan from this point forward. It's never too late to change and inspire.
There is a huge difference between teaching a student a topic and that student being able to effectively demonstrate that knowledge in written word. The more you practise writing great answers with your students, the better their chances of passing, which ultimately will rate you and your tuition provider highly. The bottom line is you need to understand why your students fell down so you can teach them how to pick themselves up. In many cases, you are all they have for support and your words can help them do incredibly well in exams.
Underpinning each and every failure is a learning lesson. Students must learn to rise above the emotion and take the time to learn from the experience and grow stronger - and so should we. Believe that you can do this; that you can lead a group of students into a great exam session. And recognise that maybe your students had to fall down before you could teach them how to get back up. You and your students will do great in December. Think Positive. Think Pass.
Susan Lefand, head of education, ACCA Caribbean