A letter to my year 11 students

Dear Year 11s

It’s Wednesday afternoon, at around 2.00pm, the day before results day.

I have been thinking about you this week, for obvious reasons, but if I am honest you haven’t left my mind much since the start of the holidays.   I am worried for you, and about you.  I am hopeful.  And anxious.  I am excited and terrified all at the same time.

In our last lesson together before study leave, we had a party and did some revision.  For a laugh, I showed you pictures of me at school.  You guys bought me presents that I will treasure (especially my yellow spangly bear) and consume (thanks for the wine and chocolate – it’s good to know you were listening to some things I said).  Because you were approaching your last day at school, you were on an emotional high.  You said nice things to me and thanked me.  I appreciated this more than you can know.

The journey we started last September wasn’t an easy one.  In all honesty, there wasn’t much hope for you.  You hated English.  Your grades sucked.  At the beginning, you played me.  You pushed my buttons.  I shouted.  You swore.  I booted you out.  You just laughed at me.  Being in class with you was a bit like playing Whack-a-mole, I would get one of you working and another one would jump.  You would talk and talk and talk and just not stop.  Do you remember the day you all refused to sit on chairs and sat on the tables?  There were days when I went home and cried because I didn’t know what to do.

What changed?  I honestly don’t know.  I can’t say for definite when you went from being my least favourite class to my surrogate children.

It might have been the day we had an honest chat about your coursework.  It wasn’t your fault what happened.  But from December to April you had to write all your coursework, as well as learn an anthology of poems and an exam novel to revise.   I told you, that if we could work out how to get your coursework to a decent level, then you could go into the exam as champions.  I said we would stick our fingers up at everyone who ever said you couldn’t do it.  I told you it wasn’t going to be easy, but it would be worth it.  I promised I would be there every step of the way.

And so we did.  We managed it.  We compared non-fiction texts and wrote our own.  We analysed Romeo and Juliet and Talking Heads.  We completed the spoken language study and wrote a piece of creative writing.  It seemed unending.  There were days, when it just wasn’t possible to make your learning fun.  We just had to plow through.  There were days when I talked too much and days when I didn’t have the energy to even speak.

One day stands out – it was a Thursday.  I woke up feeling awful, but as you were writing your last controlled assessment and I knew it wouldn’t happen with a cover teacher, I went into school.  My vision was blurry and I was heaving.  Nice huh?  When you came into the lesson, I had the lights off and blinds down.  You probably don’t remember what you did.  You sat down at your desks and got on with your work.  You were silent for the whole hour (as you should be in a controlled assessment! – how many times have I said that this year?).  You worked in the darkness, hunched over your papers.  All because I wasn’t feeling well.  One of the reasons I am writing this is because I wanted to thank you for that.

Well, it’s results day tomorrow.  We will see if you all your hard work has paid off.  But before that, there are a few things I wanted to say…

Although I know you are relying on these results for your college places, these results are not you.  Please do not let them (whether good or bad) define you.

If you don’t get the results you want tomorrow – know this.  I have seen you at your worst – you are pretty annoying and I have seen you at your best – those after school revision sessions.  Your best is pretty awesome.  They have been days when just chatting to you made my day.  When you asking for helping or making an observation made me smile for the next few hours.  I still laugh now at some of the jokes we played in my lessons (I am thinking of Spiderman and Chuck Norris right now).  If only these things were worth UMS points – you would all be rich indeed.  When you were on study leave, you still came into school to revise.  You used to come and interrupt my other lessons just to say hi.  You are good people.  You are more than your GCSEs.

If you do get the results you want tomorrow – know this.  Your success is down to you.  100%.  Yes, I helped.  But you wrote those coursework essays and you sat those exams.  I taught you for less than a year.  This is down to you.  Well done.  You did good.

Not matter what tomorrow brings – I can honestly say it was been a privilege knowing you this year.  I am proud of you.  I am so proud of how hard you worked in those last few weeks.  When you went home and did practise essays that you didn’t tell anyone about because that’s not cool.  I am proud that you revised.  I am proud that you tried in the exam and you all came and told me how much you have written.

When we first started out I told you it wasn’t going to be easy, but it would be worth it.  I hope that wasn’t a lie.

Remember – you are in charge of where your story goes from here.

Go on, go live your life.

Mrs E

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