Stressful musings from a teacher of Year 12

Are you feeling behind with your current Yr 12 class? Does it feel like you are having more and more trouble getting through the course?

This year I know I am certainly well behind schedule and won’t be finished with Module B: Hamlet before the Trials begin in a few weeks. And, because of that, students probably won’t get the in class revision they need to adequately prepare for the Trials. Aaargh!!!

When trying to analyse why this is the case it is clear that it is due to a variety of factors – multiple excursions taking students out of my class, the students not wanting to do extra in their own time, the huge expectations on what students should know in each module.

This has got me highly stressed, and a lot more stressed than most of my students who are happy to cruise along, and feeling quite helpless and vulnerable. How can I make up for lost time? What elements can I /should I focus on in the time I have left? How can I get the students to kick into high gear? Don’t they realize how important all this is?!

Interestingly, one of my soon to retire teachers made a comment the other day when dropping off a cake while visiting in her “trial retirement phase”. She said that it is in only the last 5 or 10 years that she felt the pressure in regards to Year 12. Before then, all the focus was on the students and their results were down to their efforts and their skills. The question was “How did the students go?” These days more emphasis is put on the teacher – how they taught the course, how their class performed compared to state etc. The question is now “How did YOU go?”

Newspaper wrap-ups of the HSC and league tables etc certainly don’t help. The growing push for value adding and the growing focus on data is also adding to the pressure for teachers of Year 12. So much of our success (personal as well as professional) is coming down to those results that land at school in the last week of Term Four.

This focus isn’t all bad – as professionals we need to revise and review our practices and implement improvements. But, the push for good marks at all costs has come at the expense of other equally important elements of teaching and learning. And it certainly has meant that teachers are feeling the pressure far more than they did when I first started teaching.

How do you feel about the situation? Have you also noticed the shift in focus articulated by my teacher? How are you balancing the focus on data analysis with the other essential roles of being an educator?

Any advice for a stressed out teacher would be appreciated! And now I better go back and check my email to hopefully find a tonne of emails from my Yr 12s asking me to give them feedback on their Hamlet assessment task which is due on Wednesday. While it will mean a huge workload, I will certainly feel more secure that we are on track for success later in the year.


About madiganda

Head Teacher English at Coffs Harbour High School, passionate teacher and proud recipient of the 2017 ETA Premier's Teacher Scholarship. @Madiganda on Twitter
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