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Sixth Form: the wasted years.

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by FormosaRed, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. FormosaRed

    FormosaRed Occasional commenter

    How to motivate A level students to do some work ? We are now in full-on revision: presentations, timed essays, basic knowledge keywords, quizzes, exercises in critical thinking and argument-forming. It is like pulling teeth. Even the most basic of keywords is not even recognised with that "We were never taught that" look. It's really getting to me.

    I have reached that point where I think "hang on a minute, I've taught you all of this, you've told me you're committed and enjoying it. I've assessed you every which way ; your homeworks and assessments have been appalling and I've told you this. You still are all two grades below your target grade and it is still like teaching 22 corpses four times a week."

    I know the above looks like I don't like these students, but genuinely we get on very well and I like them as people. They are just unbelievably lazy and I've hit a wall this week. I've done everything I believe I could conceivably have done to support, cajole, encourage, challenge etc. It just isn't working. Their effort is minimal They are out socialising four nights a week and I know many of them are actually hungover in lessons. A couple have actually said so. One came to me this week, realising the exam is actually going to happen and is approaching and said " erm. I need you to help me learn this. I don't know how to learn it." I was delighted at this. A student who actually recognizes some responsibility to learn. So I joyfully gave up my break to show them a variety of techniques and even apps that can help shoe-horn that material into the grey matter. What did they do ? went to another A level teacher in the dept the next day to say that Mrs X had made them do all this extra work on top of their A level studies and they didn't think it was fair.

    I could just scream.

    Can any wise A level/Sixth form person out there please throw me a life line. It's starting to keep me awake, the thought of 15 Grade Ds, 2 Es and 5 Us.
    citct likes this.
  2. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

    Arrange for them to visit a local employer. Something like a distribution warehouse, a call centre, or the local council-run recycling tip. Show them the sort of job oportunities that await them unless they decide to get off their b****s and do something about it.
    phlogiston, sabrinakat and saluki like this.
  3. FormosaRed

    FormosaRed Occasional commenter

    Great idea. If only I had the energy and will power.
  4. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    What do you expect after 13 years full time education where the worst thing they are made to do is get up in the morning in time for school and the best was messing about with mates and being attracted by the opposite sex.No need to worry about paying bills, cooking a nice meal, cleaning up or being evicted ( mostly boring stuff)
    harsh-but-fair likes this.
  5. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

    In my time at college I mainly taught BTEC students, with the odd session of AS students thrown in. In my experience, the average AS student was far lazier and less motivated than the average BTEC student. I think this was the result of their having been told they were 'gifted', which in their eyes meant they could achieve good results without really having to put in that much effort. Leave everything to the last minute and it will all just fall into place and just happen automagically. They seemed to think that the 'learning process' was simply osmosis by another name, rather than something they needed to enage in. The problem is then exacerbated by the expectation of management that somehow you will pull out all the stops, and save them at the last minute from a fate worse than death.

    Do you not have some form of 'learning contract' that student are required to subscribe to, when starting their course? If so, then remind them of their responsibilities, and remind them that the business of learning is actually a two way street.

    Make sure you have documented everything that you have done for them so far.
    Ask them to write down everything they think you could / should have done to help them.
    Work through the list, and identify anything that's a reasonable expectation, but not yet been done.
    Firm up a time when you will do it with them.

    Then get them to document everything they have done thus far, and what they need to do now, in order to help themselves.
    FormosaRed likes this.
  6. FormosaRed

    FormosaRed Occasional commenter

    Yes. It might be time for some arrass covering tactics. Your advice is appreciated. If only to reassure me that it is not all my fault.
  7. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Glad it's not just me. At one stage I even questioned my sanity because students told me over and over again, in front of other teachers, that I hadn't taught them things. I had a particularly thick LSA who agreed with them. They also swore black was blue that they hadn't been taught certain basics at school. I was so desperate that I nearly phoned their previous school to confirm it.
    Then I remembered a wise old teacher who told me 'They tell lies. Don't believe a word they say'.
    I'm not sure what your subject is but I once worked with a teacher who made students sit and chant poetry during revision lessons. Thus ensuring that they knew the poems by heart. Could you do this with subject terminology? I can still remember that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. I learnt it by rote. I still know my tables.
    Study skills sessions? Revision calendars? Suggest curtailing social activities in order to revise? :D:D:D It is true that the youth of today just don't know how to 'graft'.
    ATfan, FormosaRed and elder_cat like this.
  8. FormosaRed

    FormosaRed Occasional commenter

    Yes. I could get them to chant keywords I suppose. More terrible revision lessons this week. I think it's going to be timed essay after timed essay every lesson from now on. I don't mind the increase in marking. I keep forgetting that they are all little liars. Thank-you for the reminder. Actually it is just this yr 13 group. The yr 12 groups I have are hard-working and responsible.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  9. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Every so often I would get "zombie groups" similar to the ones you describe. They usually occurred after a particularly good year group. You have to go for the long haul, and focus on the basics rather than the flashy stuff.

    Still soul destroying though.
    citct likes this.
  10. AnotherDayTowardsRetirement

    AnotherDayTowardsRetirement Occasional commenter

    I share all your pain. I have a similar lazy Yr13 group this year. Every now and again I stop the syllabus and have what I say is my ‘reality lesson’. This involves pupils drafting a ‘wish list’, researching local living costs and then matching this to actual wage / jobs and the route/timespan taken to achieve this. Usually means a huge financial shortfall in the lifestyles pupils take for granted and reality hits home once they find out the true costs of a flat, car etc. The kids moan & complain & spout rubbish like “is this on be syllabus, we shouldn’t be learning this” but I quote directly from the school mission statement on our website “.... to equip students to enter the world of work and face the challenges of life”. Works on some students, others just dismiss it as ‘i’ll Be ok, life will provide whatever I want”.
  11. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I could think, sometimes, that perhaps "giving education willingly" to them may be the problem. I know I go back to the dark ages, but I left secondary school at 15 without one qualification, but with heaps of ambition. I knew that if I wanted to teach I had to get 'O' levels and choosing to do them was my own choice. I also learned secretarial skills, which have been really useful. So if we hadn't done our work or been up to the standard, we knew that we could be asked to leave to make way for someone who did want to learn. Teaching in FE, it was the same. Students came, not because they had no choice, but because they really really really needed to pass their exams, and my word how they worked!!! They worked as hard at home as in my class for certain and passed their exams, many with distinctions. Showing one of them the door would be the answer to the others getting down to it - - - - or am I being too hard on the little dears? ha ha Oh, the end of my story. I was teaching subjects I had never even studied at school when I was 21 and I taught for 30 years really happily, and with the highest qualifications including my teaching certificates.
  12. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    You are correct Josie. I am a similar age but my experience was a little different. I came from a very working class family, father a factory worker and mother a stay at home resident. I achieved a grammar school place in 1952 and worked my socks off. I spent hours and hours in the public library and in 1959 won a State Scholarship. No member of my family had any qualifications so going to university was unique to me. People find this hard to believe but it was through sheer hard graft and eventually so rewarding.
  13. jongreycells

    jongreycells New commenter

    Why are you in full blown revision mode in the first week of March? surely you have another 8 or more weeks teaching time. You may have covered all the content with them but it sounds like they haven’t learned everything - maybe the pace of delivery is too fast if you’re revising already. I would look at your scheme of work and think about giving more lesson time to learning/understanding not just delivering in lessons and expecting the learning to take place outside of your classroom (although they will need to do some of this too). The best A-level lessons I’ve seen have teachers who constantly direct questions through their delivery that check understanding, context of current topic in bigger picture, require recall from AS and A2 and really stretch and challenge all students. No students are allowed to be passengers in lesson - it is the most efficient way to constantly gauge understanding, give feedback and develop answers.

    Also, keep the faith with them. All students revise more for a real exam than a timed essay or mock exam in March. Be honest with them about their current performance levels but build their confidence in their ability to improve if they take action. Show you believe in what they can achieve.
  14. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    They are in revision mode because they have probably forgotten everything that they were taught in the first place. how many weeks to the exam? 8? with 3 weeks off for Easter plus some bank holidays. There's only about 5 weeks left and it is possible that they will be taking other exams in the last week of May. It is just downright scary how quickly these exams come around.
  15. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Don't know if you can get some exam exemplars for them to mark. Let them use the mark scheme and see exactly what is required for each level and how the grade can be improved. It gives them a break from revision and makes them see what is required whilst at the same time (hopefully) re-enforcing learning
  16. citct

    citct New commenter

    Thanks for the various replies to this thread; was feeling similar to the original poster, reviewing recent test results before the Easter break!

    Perhaps also an additional factor is the growth in unconditional offers to universities...
  17. codface575757

    codface575757 New commenter

    Wondering what the outcome was for OP and the students? Did hope shine through in the end?

    Am similarly furious at some of my little treasures in y12. Mock AS = U. Resit mock = U. One boy had the cheek to suggest - as he leafed through his two inch thick past paper file which had model answers, feedback, etc etc - that maybe I .. yes ME could have done more exam prep FOR him.

    In fairness there was a sharp intake of breath from the other students followed by an eerie silence as they waited for my response.
    ATfan likes this.

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