Tips For Creating A Positive Classroom Culture

The school environment can be a challenging one for both teachers and pupils, especially around exam time. This year will be especially intense for those students in the 14-18 age group, who are sitting their first formal exams in a full test conditions for two or more years. Here are some tips for teachers to help pupils perform their best. 

While it is normal and even helpful for students to experience some anxiety around testing and examination time, in some cases it can become a barrier, and prevent individuals from reaching their full potential. This year, teachers have observed that levels of anxiety are higher than ever, according to a recent report in The Guardian.

With grade inflation being carefully monitored, fewer university places available, and lack of experience in sitting formal exams, it is no surprise that the pressure is intense this year. Teachers are reporting that students are experiencing panic attacks, angry outbursts, self-harm, low mood, and high levels of non-attendance. 

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (OFQUAL) recommends that school staff should be open about exam pressure, and encourage students to discuss how it can be recognised and managed. 

Pupils should be encouraged to see that their exam performance is linked to how well they take care of their social, physical, and emotional health. This can be addressed by having a good daily routine that includes nutritious meals, exercise, adequate sleep, and time spent on hobbies and engaging with friends and family. 

Teachers should ensure that students are taught how to tackle exam papers, and how to develop good revision techniques. This will help to build up self-confidence, and provide individuals with a sense that they can control their own destiny. If necessary, additional support should be offered to those who request it.

Mock exam papers should be discussed and analysed in detail, so that students are familiar with the typical phrasing of questions. They should be taught about the different type of questions to expect, and how to interpret and answer them to the fullest effect. Make sure they are familiar with the exam format, and with working against the clock. 

Often, teachers will find that by preparing students thoroughly for the exams, right down to details about what equipment to take, the importance of timekeeping, and the rules of the examination room, students will gain confidence, and so become less anxious about the situation.

OFQUAL also recommends using the techniques of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help students challenge negative thoughts. When an unhelpful or intrusive thought occurs, it should be replaced by a prepared positive statement, which is kind and encouraging. 

For those students who are prone to panic attacks, it may help to learn some deep breathing techniques. This increases the oxygen flow to the brain, and makes it easier to think clearly and calmly. 

It may help to accompany breath work with other mindfulness techniques, which teach the mind to focus on the present moment, rather than worry about what has happened in the past, or what might occur in the future. 

For further information about sign test psychology, please contact us today.

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