I have no quarrel with exam techniques. As a young teacher I conducted many talks...to be honest, they were a training ground for me. As an excellent teacher, I sharpened my skills and extended my repertoire by doing those talks. It was one of those "must do" things in school. However, as I grew in my career, there are some questions we need to ask ourselves about our common practices in school. Now, whenever I receive an invitation (I don't do many) my first question is always "How many students have you got?"
150, 200 are the usual numbers.
If I have the choice I prefer small groups as it is more effective. School counselors can set a target group instead of having a one size fits all approach. After all counselors are trained in this area. But more often that not, all students, excellent and poor are cramped in one session. Once, I gave a talk in a packed hall with 350 students and half of them were not listening. They were the weaker students in the end classes and the teacher on duty was reading a newspaper at the back of the hall. I struggled for two hours with 350 students and that taught me a lot of things. I was 'smarter' in the years to come :)
On another occasion ( more than fifteen years ago) , a school invited me to a quaint resort to talk to about seventy top students. The quaint resort did not help in any way because there was no microphone! I was expected to talk to seventy hyperactive students who couldn't keep their mouths shut. They were speaking in their mother tongue all throughout the talk and they were supposed to be the top students in the school! Phew! A learning journey for a teacher definitely.
What do you deal with in your talk?
- how to score?
- how to answer the novel question? the comprehension questions?
Some questions I want to leave you with:
- How serious are schools about exam techniques talks?
- What are the objectives? Is it just another programme in the counselor's calendar?
- Who are their target students? Can you break them into groups based on their ability?
- Does size matter?
Perhaps workshops to improve language skills are more effective than exam techniques?
Those who can Do Those who can do more TEACH