Success and Failure


My S3 class sat an important test yesterday.  It was set at level 4, and was designed to ascertain whether or not they would be able to pass a National 4 unit assessment.  The class have known about the test for several months, and have known that failure to gain 50% in the test would mean moving to a different class - to focus on passing National 4 by the end of S4 instead of moving beyond level 4 to start working toward National 5.

I've written about this class before in Notes for Future Self and Aww.

I put in place a major program of support for all those pupils who were not reaching the standard back in September - almost half the class.  Yesterday's test was where we found out whether or not all the hard work had paid off - and there was a lot of hard work!  I contacted the parents of every pupil who had underperformed; the pupils attended support sessions after school from 4-5pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, completed substantial homeworks every week and spent time correcting their mistakes after getting feedback from me (often by video).  I have genuinely never seen an S3 maths class work as hard as this one has (barring a couple of exceptions).

I marked the tests this morning, and all but two of them had passed.  I was absolutely delighted, but at the same time disappointed by the two failures.  Neither of them had engaged in the program of support, and it was really disappointing to see how their performance had stagnated at an insufficient level whilst those around them had progressed by leaps and bounds.  As Dylan Wiliam says, every teacher fails every day, and I failed with these two.

Many of the other pupils -  especially those would had underperformed back in September, worked very hard and had now performed well - were absolutely ecstatic.  They couldn't stop smiling, and kept thanking me for all the time I (and Mr Foulkes)  had put in to help them.  I, of course, reminded them that it was they who had really done all the hard work.

The pupils in this class will, no doubt, face many more challenges between now and the end of S4, but I hope that they have learned an important lesson: that failure can be turned into success by hard work and perseverance.  I hope that they are beginning to develop a growth mindset.

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