The school where I teach will be immersed in sweat and tears with students taking their mid-term exams. Sometimes I wonder who is more stressed out about exam week, the students or the teachers who write and administer the exams?
I was never a fan of exams. I suffered grievously with test stress, an anxiety about taking tests that has stayed with me even into adulthood. I STILL have a reoccurring nightmare about being late for a final in university and not being able to find the classroom and when I finally find it, there is no doorknob for me to get into the room. It’s awful!
I sympathize with my students who suffer from this malady. Unfortunately I passed that “fear of tests” gene onto my two girls, although I must say they seem to have outgrown it better than I ever did.
Now I’m on the other side of the desk, so to speak, and my fear is that upon marking my student’s exams, I will discover how little they listened to me over the past half year, or how poorly I taught the subject matter, or both! It is stressful either way. As a teacher, I want my students to succeed…that’s my goal. I strive for excellence in my teaching because that is what the Lord expects of me. Am I perfect? Absolutely not! But I do think it a personal failure on my part if a student has not reached his or her full potential in my classroom. I’m always thinking how I could have done better to motivate my students or better teach for their understanding. My students may not realize how much it grieves me when they do poorly. It means either they are struggling with the content, or my teaching is at fault or they have problem with character. I can do something about the first two, content and teaching, but it is entirely up to the student to work on their character.
It grieves me even more when a student does not try, doesn’t care, is lazy, or they’ve “checked out” of utilizing their school experience to its fullest. It happens. I have students who are driven to do their very best. I have students who may not be exceptional students academically but TRY so hard to be the very best they can be. That is a sign of character. Then there are students who, for lack of better words, are “taking up space” in the classroom. They are so full of God-given potential but they refuse to put in any effort; they never hand anything in and basically have “checked out”. As my father was known to say, “God gave them brains, but they refuse to use them.” Those students haunt me. How can I motivate and encourage a student like that?
Certainly each student comes to school from different circumstances that affects their learning, but “character” rises above circumstances. I think of Hope in my creative writing class who suffered brain trauma after a tragic set of complications followed a routine tonsillectomy. Blind and confined for now to a wheel chair, she is probably one of my top students in writing. Talk about rising above her circumstances! I look to her example whenever I am feeling sorry for myself and think that my life is “hard”.
So, I am praying for each of my students this next week as they take their mid-terms. May they all know that Mrs. Dove is thinking about them and praying that they will strive to do their very best!