Secondary schools are back on track and, as every year, the graduating class has probably spent the last week hearing from each teacher about the important work that lies ahead, the need to settle into a good routine early and the Teachers’ plans to get through the year.
However, there is much that cannot be considered normal as the Class of 2023 education has been disrupted by Covid.
Most students know that a good fifth year can make a big difference in their progress. Studying well the first time and establishing a good study and homework routine will help students hit the ground running in sixth year.
Regardless, it’s normal for sixth graders to come into my office during the first semester stressed or overwhelmed and regretting that they didn’t start preparing more carefully in fifth year.
What I found unusual in the spring of 2022 was the crowd of fifth graders who came into my office with these feelings and concerns. Good students kept telling me how they worked diligently at the start of third year preparing for their Junior Cert, but when schools closed and it became clear that the exams weren’t going to happen, they stopped learning and didn’t have it again started right.
They worried that not only had they broken the habit of studying, but they also didn’t know how to learn. They worried that they would not be able to complete the finality of the Leaving Cert as an exam since they had never taken a high-stakes exam before. They worried that they were lagging behind their peers. Add to that the added pressure of not knowing how the Leaving Cert grades are awarded.
I would suggest that most students experience these feelings early in sixth year, so they are not behind their peers.
It is important to realize that we cannot change the past and that we should work with what we can. From this point on, sixth graders can control how they prepare.
Breaking down the work that needs to be done into small, bite-sized chunks and working one day at a time is essential to managing workload and stress levels. Focus on doing quality homework first. Think of this as a study that the teacher asked you to do. In this way, the sixth grader work is learned correctly the first time it is introduced, which saves time in the future. Then study for class tests – again to ensure the work is properly introduced and learned.
Finally, introduce an overhaul where possible, but accept that it may not be possible every day.
Aoife Walsh is a Counselor at Malahide Community School, Co. Dublin
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/exams/class-of-2023-how-to-manage-new-worries-students-may-have-in-sixth-year-41967184.html Class of 2023: How to Deal with New Concerns Sixth Year Students May Have