Yesterday, a new student studying for the NSW HSC came for tutoring. For those of you who don't know what the HSC (Higher School Certificate) is, it is the award given for the final year of study in Year 12 in NSW (Australia) high schools. Fifty percent of the marks come from school based assessments and fifty percent from the final statewide exam. Because students are being assessed fairly continually throughout the year, studying for the HSC can be a gruelling experience, particularly for young people prone to anxiety.
So, back to our young student ... His first major English assessment was a bit of a disaster. It was a speech and through sheer nervousness, he forgot everything he was going to say and ended up speaking in dot points. His teacher was not impressed, to say the least. He received 50% and the written comment on his marking sheet that read "Did you even try?" By the time he got here, he was a discouraged, teary-eyed mess.
He had in fact tried. His self esteem is already struggling to cope with the demands of the English course, for which he has actually been ill-prepared by the school system. Smart-alec, negative comments that don't offer any constructive advice on how to improve can place a huge amount of emotional stress on a student.
So teachers, please remember to be kind. Unless comments are going to be helpful, just don't make them.
Our primary contributor is Elissa, who is a qualified high school teacher and Irlen Screener.