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Stressing about A-level results

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Bonnie23, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter


    I'm really stressed about the A-level results on Thursday. I'm honestly not expecting anyone to get above a D.

    During the year we had no one in 'charge' of the cohort but I had the most lessons with the students.

    To say they were a weak cohort is an understatement. We had one great student but he fell off track at the end.

    I teach a practical subject but during their final weeks I was suspended pending investigation (this is all cleared up now) but I missed their final weeks of practical lessons which let some of the coursework down, I was also offering after school sessions and they could come in during my PPAs but I wasnt there to offer that. Many of them dropped marks in their coursework because they didnt finish their evaluation or tidy up the ends of it - they did have time but many of them told me they couldn't be bothered which easily dropped them another grade in the coursework. Again I wasnt there to make sure they got everything done.

    The suspension led me to having time off work, when my suspension was lifted I went off with stress because I was still under investigation and couldn't cope. One student from my class told me directly that it was all my fault they were going to fail - the end of the investigation led to results that were not directly my fault but I still feel guilty that I wasnt there.

    This also meant I missed a lot of exam prep with them. They did at least one lesson a week over two years of exam prep but the plan was to cover exam technique during the time I was off.

    I also wasnt the teacher that went on the training course for the new specification and the teacher that did failed to share much if any information with the rest of the team despite us asking them multiple times.

    I have already put plans into place for the current year 12s and those moving into year 13 to close the gaps in their knowledge, I'm booked on a training course and I've spent a lot of the summer trying to improve my own knowledge of the course but I dont feel this will be enough. The school has amended my contract to put me in lead of the A-level next year and I feel like it was a huge mistake to accept this.

    I'm already on anti anxiety meds and honestly just feel fear, I dont want to increase my dose but I know I'm on them purely because of my job.

    I just feel like I'm coming up with excuses for myself and that I didnt do enough.
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    You're right - you didn't do enough because you simply couldn't do it! You were stopped because you were under investigation BUT the results cannot be your fault whatsoever. The school failed them by not making adequate preparations! As to the student who gave out to you? Ignore them. Maybe the kids should have had some extra help and at A-level, the students are old enough to ask their parents to get a tutor or complain to the school to find a solution.


    I tutor privately and both students this year felt they needed more help so they asked their parents about extra tuition, which hopefully helped.

    Again, NOT your fault. YOU weren't there!

    Try to enjoy the rest of your summer.
    drek, bombaysapphire, CWadd and 6 others like this.
  3. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    What impresses me the most about your post is that you have "put in place plans for the current year 12s" etc as that shows me you have not been paralysed by the situation. Being able to do this demonstrates that you have been able to identify weaknesses, whether they be in your teaching or the system doesn't matter because you have a plan on how to improve the lot of your students. Having their needs as a priority speaks volumes about your professionalism and aptitude, so whilst you must not neglect your own health take strength from that knowledge. One of the major stress factors in teaching is that there is never a 'finished product' that you can look at and admire, well in my opinion that's the case as we are always looking for the next step for our students and working to help them fulfil their potential - another 'immeasurable' quality.
  4. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    This does sound like a rather difficult and complex situation,
    It is great that you are already looking froward and trying to plan positively for next year.
    Your health is the most important thing and you need to take care of yourself, you are no use to anyone if you are ill.
    The issue of the teacher refusing to share details of their training is ridiculous, if this happens again you and colleagues need to insist that you are sent on any future training courses for the subjects you are delivering. Sorting this out is really the HOD's and the SLT's responsibility.
    You cannot be blamed for things that happen during your absence. Again if you were not in school your HOD is responsible for making sure that exam groups are looked after.
    Good to know that you have been cleared of the issues that led to your suspension, I won't ask what this was about, but I would suggest that with everything else going on you should give careful consideration to your future and may want to think about how you would move on to another school if you felt this was necessary.
    If you were not the only teacher working with this group then you are not the only teacher accountable for any problems, it sounds that you are taking a lot of responsibility on your self.
    Try not to let others duck their own responsibilities / accountability towards this cohort.
    I hope that what ever the outcome on Thursday you will be treated fairly and can focus on a positive start in September.
    phlogiston, Bonnie23 and SundaeTrifle like this.
  5. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter

    Thank you all for your comments so far. I just dont know how the school will react. I understand why the results are released this week but I wish it was closer to going back in September so there isnt a waiting game of finding out what is going to happen :(
  6. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    It sounds as if the group have had a rough ride, but it was hardly your fault. I wonder whether anyone applied for special consideration for them, and whether anyone will assist them if a poor result means they may not be accepted for their chosen uni course.

    Your positive plans for next year should help - any analysis of results should be focussing on "how do we do better next year?", and it seems you have this in hand. If others are also involved in teaching, you could perhaps plan in sharing what you've learned from the course you're going on at a department meeting, so that it's quite clear that that mistake won't happen again. Your school putting you in charge of A-level is a vote of confidence - they obviously know that you'll do it diligently.

    The student who complained at you was just looking for someone to blame, which is probably inevitable. It's what teens do - as far as my daughter is concerned, most things are my fault! They shouldn't know why you were off, and so won't know just to what extent it was out of your control.
    pepper5, drek, phlogiston and 5 others like this.
  7. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
    This applies here.

    You cannot change their grades now. You can only appeal the results if you think there are grounds to.

    Stressing yourself now won't change anything about the actual results, it will, however, eventually make you ill.

    That is not your fault is it?

    When the cohort is bright and work hard and the results are fab, everyone is happy and accepts it without too much questioning.
    Weak groups also happen but SLT, parents and often the students themselves are frequently reluctant to accept this even to the point of denial. At which point the blame game begins.

    This is a default for some people. Some students have a tendency to blame others when they do badly. All far too common these days, it is important to tell these students that they are responsible their results not yours.

    A useful mantra can be:
    'my subject teachers names are not on my results certificate because I sat the exams not my teachers. The results are mine. Nothing has changed in this regard. Your results have your name on because they are precisely that, your results (not mine).'

    Suspensions are, by their very nature, very stressful.
    In your shoes I would be suspcious of the timing.
    However the timing of events means that it was impossible to complete the preparation of students.

    How professional of you. The school is lucky to have you.

    If you let others blame you for the failings of others then the some people will sieze this as an opportunity to abdicate their responsibilty and/or to 'point to finger of blame'. Stop doubting yourself. Believe in yourself. your school obviously do.

    The school obviously thinks you can do it. Step up the challenge.

    You are describing something that I would describe as running a negative inner script. Stop criticising yourself to no positive end.
    Asking can I do this better is ok. Simply saying "I didn't do enough" serves no purpose other than to feel bad.

    Think about what you put here,

    That is not you, it is them. With experience there comes a time when you know it is them. You have tried and they have not. You are already working on next year. Were these students studying in the summer holidays 'off their own bat', I doubt it.

    It is useful to reflect on end of year 12 mock exams. I often find students fail to be realistic about their performance in the face of poor mock results. If they failed to seize the opporunity to up their coursework marks, then it was precisely that they failed, not you.

    A wiser man than I once told me
    "you can't learn it for them"
    "nor sit the exam papers for them."
    "there comes a time when they need to take responsibility for themselves"
    Time has shown his words to be enduringly true.
    I still try and find ways to make things easier to remember.
    He also told me that A levels were never intended for everyone.
    pepper5, phlogiston, steely1 and 2 others like this.
  8. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    What you have described is an impossible situation. You are a caring person who has given your best.

    You weren’t the sole teacher of the group and others should have taken up responsibility for completing the course during your absence. It was your employer’s responsibility.

    Look after your health. Stop offering your time during PPAs and after school, unless it is just giving students opportunity to use facilities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Explain to students at the start of the year that you expect them to work hard during lesson time and to complete homework, study, research or skill development tasks to a good standard. If your employer isn’t providing sufficient contact time to deliver the course don’t take that on board yourself, it is their decision.

    You are remarkably positive after experiencing suspension and investigation. You are diligent, dedicated and admirable. Look after yourself.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I know this is your actual LIFE and it's important to you BUT.....

    Let me brutal. Nobody else will.

    A practical subject? But not a "hard" science. Look, no university will care that much if their grade in this subject ain't top-notch. It ain't Maths and it ain't English and, although you love it and plenty of people do, nobody is going to give a damn by Christmas 2019. And if a couple of students do miss out on their preferred destination? Not your fault. In the scheme of things it's a 1 or 2 out of 10. If school is daft enough to cut up rough about it? Ignore.

    You've a job. They need you. They appointed you. Don't cream-cracker yourself. That helps nobody. You have a duty to yourself to look after your health and safety. You have all your emotional eggs in this one basket. That isn't good for you. You know about a balanced diet. Well, you need to find balance in your emotional life. Derive sustenance from friends and family, from exercise and hobbies. Not just work!
    Bonnie23 likes this.
  10. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    I am guessing that you are teaching a technology. A valuable and important subject and having taught it myself for 30 years in my view just as important as any other.
    Yes all my career I have heard that maths, english and science are the most important subjects with humanities and languages coming in next. Ignore this, every subject matters. I have never put down any other subjects in spite of hearing others sidelining DT. It is what is important to you that matters, what each pupil wants to move on to that is important, and how your subject supports their ambitions.
    I have taught pupils who have gone on to study engineering, architecture and product design and have been very successful. DT supports learning,achievement and careers at all levels just like any other subject.
    Good advice about managing your time, coursework can easily take over the life of you and your students and planning for this is essential. Work with your technician to get the maximum benefit of their support.
  11. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    If the students have applied for courses in engineering or design, say, or for apprenticeships in this area, the grades will matter. To them and to the university.

    I'm sorry that the OP is in a bad place over this - you've had a really bad hand over the last year. I'm also sorry that the view of others is to knock your subject and make out it's an irrelevance.
  12. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I think we are all a bit worried this year. I teach maths and the changes have turned it into a bit of a lottery. I would look on the bright side a grade D is a good pass and may be a real achievement.
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I respect ALL subjects! And I hate the fact that my grandkids don't get any music any more. MFL? What's that? It's a national scandal.

    But you can do nothing now. Give it up. Unless you feel there's a lesson you can learn from last year. Is there?
    Bonnie23 and afterdark like this.
  14. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    I disagree with this... I'm assuming the OP is a tech or engineering teacher. With the new STEM or STEAM focus in schools these subjects are often under as much scrutiny as the maths and sciences. However they often attract weaker and less mortivated students. Whereas an A Level maths class usually has high achievers and parental support, these aren't usually givens for practical subjects such as tech. There are usually bigger sets and lots of demotivated boys. Teachers in these areas are usually under very different, but equally Hugh stakes pressures these days.
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    To @GirlGremlin - quite.

    A post has been written stating that universities will not care about the OP's results as they are not in a hard science, English or Maths. The OP is clearly stressed and upset - telling them not to worry as the universities won't care is not, in my view, terribly helpful. The school will. It's all very well telling people to ignore a school's reaction, but if you're in the eye of the storm, it's a little hard to...ok?
  16. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    If you've been teaching an A Level group you're always going to be fearful as well as hopeful. You know their strengths, you know their weaknesses, you know their aspirations, you know their fears as well. It is always like that. If other things intervene, as for the OP, it's even more true.
    But one colleague has an excellent line for their A Level students: "Your job this year is to make your teachers redundant." The candidates are the ones taking the A Level, they are the ones who need it as a passport to their next stage in life, they need to take ownership of the process - and the more they can set aside the support of teachers, the better they will do in the end.
    In the wash-up after results, I have always expected HoDs and teachers to analyse their results by individual candidate as well as looking at overall statistics. That allows attention to the kind of things mentioned by the OP - and lots of other things besides.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Given the huge disruption I don't see that anything but a disaster is to be expected. None of that is the fault of the OP.

    If the OP is to take the blame for almost inevitably poor results then it speaks volumes as to the state of play within the school.

    I hope all your colleagues will stand up for you. That's what a union is at heart. That we care enough about our own professional dignity and care enough about our colleagues not to just roll over.
  18. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    Whenever results came in I always took full credit for the good grades and blamed the students for the bad grades! Unfortunately management always took the opposite view. The truth of course was in the middle.
  19. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter

    Honestly after some of the posts here I think I'm more anxious than before I posted. From posts telling me my subject doesnt matter to others telling me I've basically screwed up these student's futures.

    I feel like sending an email to resign now.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It matters to them and it's a great shame for the ones who were really "into" the subject.

    It's also possible that your bosses will have a go at you despite the fact it's no way your fault.

    However, your bosses also need you for the coming year.

    This is your anxiety talking. Your low self-esteem. Another person in this same situation might be saying, "Duck 'em. Not my fault, mate. Poor kids but not my flamin' fault!"

    Imagine you're a YR6 teacher. You had time off for a knee op. They put a different supply teacher in every day for 6 weeks. The SATs tanked. But you get it in the neck. Replicate that for departments at secondary etc etc. That's where you are.

    Resign if you want. Not because you're rubbish but because THEY have been rubbish and then has the audacity to place the blame on you! Anxiety makes everything about you and your alleged inadequacies. Those are your feelings but that's nowhere near the reality as anyone can tell by reading what you have to say about your planning and your thoughts for the future.

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