Tag Archives: Advice

Understanding and Helping the ‘Quiet’ Students

Hi!

Yes, I’ve been a bad blogger again and haven’t posted in two months. So, happy New Year, everyone (it looks strange to write that in February)! I hope 2017 is going well for you so far.

I’ve started my second, and final, semester of University. It’s going to be my busiest semester, as I went against advice last year and chose to do four modules this semester and two modules last semester (I have to do a total of six). Why? Because I found there were more interesting and helpful (the latter in terms of teaching) modules in this second semester, and since the two modules I were interested in in the first semester were both quite heavy in terms of reading (Shakespeare and Jane Austen), I thought it might balance out okay. The modules are fascinating, and I’m really excited to complete my dissertation (I’m going to enjoy the process along the way).

What am I writing about today? Well, I’ve had a few ideas for posts which aren’t fully developed yet, but it struck me that I could write about engaging the ‘quiet’ students. I’m not trained in teaching yet, so you might want to take this post with a grain of salt, but I am writing conjecturally, and from my own experiences and observations. If you do teach, and if you don’t, please feel free to comment and let me know what you think – you might agree or disagree with me, and I like hearing (or, rather, reading, in this case!) different perspectives, as it helps me to learn.

Without further ado, let’s consider the engagement of ‘quiet’ students.

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What is going on in the minds of quiet students?

They could be thinking any of the following (or similar):

  • ‘Okay. This is okay, I’m content with what we’re doing, and I don’t really feel the need to say much.’

 

  • ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. Everybody else seems to be getting on okay, maybe I just need to think a bit more, look back at my notes.’

 

  • ‘Ooh, I have an idea/ response to the question the teacher just asked! But what if it’s wrong? What if I raise my hand, and then everybody turns around, and then I mess it up, and turn out to be wrong anyway? Even if I’m right, why would I draw attention to myself? I’m just going to write it down, and when the teacher marks it I’ll get to find out what they think – that’s okay, isn’t it? I’m still engaging, just not verbally… I wish I could be more confident.’

 

  • ‘I’m just going to try to get through the work, never mind saying anything.’

 

  • ‘What does it matter? It’s not like anything I say matters.’

 

Why might students think like this?

  • They might just be naturally quiet people. This doesn’t mean they won’t have numerous thoughts whizzing around their head.

 

  • Something, e.g. bullying, their home-life, their mental health, hormonal fluctuations (in teenagers), their previous experiences in class(es), has affected them, their self-esteem, and/ or their ability to engage in class.

 

What could we do about this, to make sure students are coping okay with their work, and progressing?

  • Keep a check  on how they’re doing – both academically and personally. Liaising with support staff, other teachers, personal tutors, and family/ carers (if possible) should help in this respect.

 

  • Remind your students that there is no such thing as a stupid question. No matter if a student asks the most basic question, they deserve your patience and encouragement. If you’ve just told them the answer to their question five or ten minutes ago, it can be frustrating, but instead of giving in to the frustration, you may want to consider their concentration level, or the possibility that they may like to ‘double-check’ something, for fear they’ll do their work wrong.

 

  • Create a culture of positivity and acceptance within the classroom, and around the school. This can help their confidence to flourish. In class, some students will think ‘I really hope the teacher doesn’t ask me a question’, and squirm when you do, but by encouraging their self-esteem, and working on easing them into class discussions, they may eventually become a student who volunteers to give an answer/ answers.

 

  • Potentially run, or encourage students to join, an after-school club. For example, if a student shies away from reading aloud in class, running a reading club, which might not be attended by many, and encouraging them to read a section aloud, even for a little bit, and even if it’s just to you at first, might eventually help them to feel more comfortable reading aloud in front of multiple people.

 

A little anecdote: When I was ten years old, I remember my Year 6 teacher talking about a Maths and Literacy class she was going to run after school. I suffered from low self-esteem through primary school, and though I loved Literacy, I hated Maths, and I remember thinking something like, ‘Well it’s optional, I don’t have to go, and so I don’t have to do extra Maths!’ As I worked alongside my classmates in an IT room, the teacher was in a corner going through who she was going to send letters home with, to let their parents know about the after-school class. I thought, ‘Aha, she’s not going to say me’, and then she eventually called down to me, ‘Jessica’. I thought ‘Oh no,’ and went up to her, and we talked about how it was my confidence with Maths that was affecting me. So I started going to the after-school classes, and you know what? I started getting more comfortable with Maths, and I eventually started feeling a bit more excited to answer Maths questions during the school day. If my teacher hadn’t encouraged me to go to those after-school classes, what would my confidence with Maths have been like by the end of primary school? During secondary school? I only wish I could tell her I chose to do Maths at A-Level – the primary school me would never have dreamed of doing Maths post-compulsory! It just goes to show the effect you can have on people.

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What do you think? Is there anything I’ve missed? I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!

Jessica

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What Could I Do When I Have My Results? Advice for Further Education Students

Hello,

You may have seen my previous post ‘A Short Guide to Results Day and Clearing (a Video Blog)‘. This post is a second part to it, though it is not a video blog this time. Today, I thought I would give further education (examples: A Level, BTEC, Scottish Higher) students some advice on what they could do when they receive their results. The routes are organised into specific categories:

Results better than expected/ wanted/ needed

  • Adjustment (University). If you are already planning to go to University, and you receive results that are better than you expected (well done!), you will highly likely (unless something went wrong) receive an unconditional offer from your first choice University.  This means you will be able to attend it in the new academic year. If you want to though, you can look at Adjustment. Adjustment is the process provided by UCAS, through which students who achieve better results than expected can keep their unconditional offer, but also have a look at other courses or Universities they may want to attend instead.

If you find a course or a University that you are interested in, then like Clearing, you ring the University in the hopes that you could obtain a verbal offer. If you receive any verbal offers, you may want to consider your decision carefully, and if you want to change your chosen University or course, you request to be released from your unconditional offer (you should be able to do this, check UCAS), and select the course and University who gave you a new verbal offer.

If you decide that you do not want to change University or course, then everything is okay, as you still have your original unconditional offer.

Good luck at University!

Results as expected/ wanted/ needed

Well done! You can do anything listed under ‘Any of the above outcomes’.

Results lower than expected/ wanted/ needed

Ah, I understand this situation. I hope you know that as long as you tried your best that is all that matters, and you can still be successful after this. It is okay to cry (remember to bring tissues with you on Results Day, and also somebody supportive if you want to), but let me just repeat a part of my last clause, to make sure you read it: you can still be successful. So what can you do?

  • Re-sit. This probably sounds like a horrible idea, but if you are so disappointed with your results, or your teachers or family members advise you to, you may want to consider re-sitting. There is no shame in re-sitting, as long as you try to learn where you went wrong (ask your college or sixth form whether they can request your paper/s back on your behalf for you to learn from your mistakes – you, or the school, will have to pay for these though), and try your best in the next academic year. Trying your best does not mean overworking though, as I overworked in my last year of A Level and that had a negative effect on me and, I believe, my results. If you are worried about your employability prospects, as I was when I received my results, talk to a careers advisor (or a teacher/ family member/ friend who understands this area).
  • Ask for a re-mark. If your result is close to the next grade boundary, you may want to think about getting a re-mark of your paper/s. If you do get a re-mark, your result may go up, stay the same, or even go down afterwards. It can be a difficult decision, and you or your school will have to pay for the re-mark, so talk about this option with your teachers (and your family too if you want).

Any of the above outcomes

No matter what happens, you can do any of the below:

  • Gap year. You might have already planned to do this, but if you feel too overwhelmed and do not know whether you want to go to University or get a steady job, you may want to consider taking a gap year. A gap year is a perfect opportunity to travel, to build up work experience, and to work out what path you want to take (though you can always follow a different path later in life, you are never resigned to one path). Just remember you want to be able to tell future employers what you did (productively) in your gap year, if you choose to take one.
  • Clearing (University). I went through this route, so I just want to re-assure you that by no means are you a ‘failure’ if you go to University via this method. I say a bit more about it in the video blog I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but basically Clearing is where you can find courses with vacancies at Universities across the country. The major difference, from applying to University earlier in the year, is that you must receive a verbal offer/ offers first, and then only select one course when you login to UCAS. When your choice is confirmed, you can get ready for University!
  • Job/ Apprenticeship. You might already have something lined up, or you might just decide after getting your results that you would like to find a job or an apprenticeship. Try not to worry too much if you think you are too late for an application – have a look on websites and in newspaper listings as soon as you can, if not straight away, with an idea of what sort of area you would like to work in/ what would be helpful to your career goals. If there is a careers advisor at your college or sixth form, it might be a good idea to talk to them – they should be able to help you efficiently. Make sure your CV is up-to-date, and good luck!
  • Celebrate. After you leave your sixth form or college, you students who received the results they wanted, or who received results that exceeded your expectations, might start thinking about where and how you are going to celebrate. If your results were lower than expected/ wanted, you might just want to go home and think about your options, or let yourself feel upset for a bit, but it might be good to go out and ‘celebrate’ with your family or friends. You probably think I mean that sarcastically, but I do not mean it so. My parents took me out for a meal to celebrate, because even though I was upset with my results, and they were upset for me, they were still proud of me (we had a meal when I received my GCSE results too, and they were higher than I had expected). Getting through further education is a major accomplishment, so well done (even if you do not believe it now)!

You may feel surprised at the number of options listed under ‘Any of the above outcomes’, and that is because I do not want to suggest a certain route for a student to follow. For instance, those who achieve highly may not want to go to University (even if they showed a prior interest, or are expected to by others), and those who do not achieve as well as they wanted to can go to University if they so wish (dependent upon the entry requirements of the university/ universities they are interested in attending). I want students to realise that there are so many options open to them.

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If you are a student, or a parent/ carer of a student, expecting their results, please feel free to share this post with other students. You may also want to make notes if you want to discuss the options with your family, your teachers or even your friends (I might have missed some options, but these are the ones I know of – please tell me if I am missing anything. A different website might take a different approach, and it is never bad to investigate other websites with something so important as results advice, as long as they are impartial).

Let me know if this post is helpful – I would love to hear from you. If you’re reading this before Results Day on Thursday 13th August in the UK, good luck!

Jessica

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Filed under Education, Results