Taking Away the Water Wings.

There was a time when I enjoyed Easter Study days. Getting down to the business end of the year; kids beginning to really focus; the more relaxed approach; the snacks. I tended to get their full attention when they had given up their holiday time and were aware that I was giving mine. I would even take pride in the numbers I would get in the sessions; surely testimony to the relationships I was building with the class and their appreciation of my teaching. Great results in August were clearly down to that extra work we had all put in.

But then, after a few years of this, something began to trouble me. It wasn’t merely that I was giving up holiday time I could and should have been sharing with others. It wasn’t even that it was voluntary with no chance of ever being paid. It was down to the fact that, even though I tried not to notice, the kids who really needed the extra help never turned up; the high flyers who were destined to pass with ease always did. It was a joy and a luxury because there was little challenge; little chance of it not being a success.

So does Easter study class really help them? Do they need more time with a teacher to go over material they haven’t learned yet or need more practice in? I don’t think so. What I think serves them better is time on their own to revise and learn, revise and learn; time to think for themselves and develop understanding of the things we no doubt spend ages in class going over pre-holiday. Dare I say it but, yes, developing understanding is at times a very solitary activity. My pupils will benefit greatly from sitting quietly in their own rooms and revising the work.

We may well be doing them a disservice by providing more teacher access at this vital time. I haven’t done the research though. Sorry. But, in my experience, it seems that perhaps we over-protect them from real learning at this time of the year. Perhaps we provide too much of a safety net. We may do that for genuinely caring reasons: we want great results for pupils and school; we worry that a little bit extra just might make the difference. However, I would suggest that targeting those most in need would be more beneficial and these guys often are reluctant to give up holiday time.

So, at this point, perhaps we would be kinder to them if we simply locked the school over the Easter break. Removing the water wings might help them to become better learners. And, while I can understand the argument that offering Easter classes may help to develop a stronger leaning culture in a school, they may well learn better without us. I still want them to be able to contact me – I use Glow for questions and access to materials – but I won’t feel any guilt about not being in school at all.

6 thoughts on “Taking Away the Water Wings.

  1. Pingback: Taking Away the Water Wings. | The Echo Chamber

  2. Pingback: How could we improve accountability? | David Didau: The Learning Spy

  3. We don’t do this anymore. Even the study support after school during term time is limited simply because (a) we’re too damn busy with the spreadsheet completion, tracking and other crap the SLT think we enjoy and (b) no-one came apart from the anxious ones with tutors anyway! We felt it was better to grab kids who NEEDED the support to be taken out and given 1 to 1 sessions during their so-called study periods (the ones where the SLT supervise so they claim to have a heavy teaching programme!). It works. Also, of course, is the issue that you raised where teachers were giving up their holidays and evenings when they could be having time with their families or just being able to nip out shopping or go to the cinema or even (gasp!) the pub for a cultural singsong or whatever.

  4. What are holidays for? Scottish children are stressed out and unhappy. The amount of assessing and reassessing I have done in this last term, which lasted 1/4 of a year, is the worst I’ve experienced. The pupils have been inundated with assignments and added value units. Enough is enough! Learning and teaching should be done in school. I am now getting some pupils asking me why I am not doing Easter school. I`ve had to tell them that I am on holiday.
    CfE`s philosophy was to declutter and make time to do things such as revision. Enough is enough. What we are creating in schools today is not successful learners, confident individuals,effective contributors, responsible citizens but rather stressed out, burnt out unhappy pupils and teachers. The joy of learning and teaching smashed into the ground. Is this the education system we want? Definitely not! Lets get back to sanity. Cut the content and assessment regime. Stop schools chasing points for units and keep holidays for what they are supposed to be…. a break from work to refresh ourselves and return to work having the energy to teach well! Happy Easter.

    • Couldn’t have said it better. Don’t be made to feel guilty about not giving up your holiday. We’ve done enough. Now up to students to do their bit. Enjoy your holiday and thanks for commenting.

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