Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'I Don't Care If I Fail. I'm Used to It'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'I Don't Care If I Fail. I'm Used to It'

Article excerpt

Students retaking their GCSEs are often in dire need of a confidence boost

Many more students who didn't achieve a C at school are now retaking their English GCSE. Often they have had a negative experience of the subject and are low on confidence.

For most teenagers in the secondary education system, GCSEs are viewed as the end goal. Gaining these qualifications is the moment they work towards throughout their school career. They are made to feel as if the C they are expected to achieve as a minimum will guarantee their future accomplishments and determine their career prospects.

Sadly, the number of GCSE maths and English candidates aged 17 and older who have to resit the exams has risen by 18 per cent since last year. Many of these learners arrive at college with negative feelings that they cannot help but express.

I have many such students, and I listen to and empathise with them all. One young man said to me, "Miss, I don't care if I fail. I'm used to it."

Comments like this make me realise the challenge that lecturers who teach resit courses are up against. How can we engage learners? And what can we do to boost their confidence?

Ensure immediate success

This is a great way to re-engage students and boost their confidence. They arrive in our classrooms feeling like failures and questioning their ability. In some cases, they are low on motivation because they were just a handful of marks away from a C. The best thing we can do is allow them to succeed at something. It could be a simple, self-assessed "point, evidence, explain and develop" paragraph, or it could be a group activity in which learners' individual strengths are highlighted. When they are able to see and appreciate their own talents, their motivation and confidence will increase.

Use innovative teaching methods

When planning lessons, I ask: "How can I teach this topic in a way that will wow my learners? …

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