I mentor year 10 students at our local high school and hear them talk about stress. My own children are at the SATs age and feel the weight of expectation on their shoulders. A BBC Newsround survey last year found nearly 90% of 10 – 11 year old pupils in England felt pressure to do well in their key stage two SATs and I don’t need to give you the stats for teenage mental health issues, you know we have a problem. That is wrong.
I firmly believe that primary age children will do their best if they are inspired by their teacher, encouraged, praised and, throughout their education, encouraged to demonstrate their skills, achievements and progress. By the time year six comes they will want to do their best to show off how good the school is. Why not tell them the SATs are to show how good a job their teacher is doing? If the teacher is doing a good job the children will want to help. If the children are used to showing off their skills it won’t phase them.
By the time they are in year ten yes there should be pressure, after all we are helping to prepare them for life outside of education and to use a quote I love.
We need to help our young people think differently, understand that self esteem will come as a result of achieving things so challenge and pressure is a good thing, provided it is not excessive pressure and challenge. The best way I think we can help them is to be able to do it ourselves and the show them.
I have met many teachers who struggle with this. They don’t see a lesson observation as a way to show how good they are. In our workshops we often get delegates refusing to share their ideas and opinions due to a fear of being judged and they struggle to use the feedback proactively. Maybe its not just the students who need a bit of help with this.
This is what I try
- Each day write down three good things that have happened, share them with your colleagues or class and encourage them to do the same.
- Push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone (not completely out of it) see what you can achieve.
- Accept a compliment for being just that.
- Actively seek feedback from people whose opinion you respect and trust, dont wait for it to come to you.
Feel free to comment and share your ideas below or contact me firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we work with adults and young people to build resilience and deal with the pressures our life puts us under.