It’s a rite of passage: one of those rare things that everyone experiences- like being forced to eat sprouts at your Christmas dinner, having your first sleepover with “midnight snacks”, or getting drunk at the park on half a WKD. Tomorrow is one of the most nerve-wracking passages of all: GCSE results day.
The beauty is, we can all relate to those poor kids tomorrow: we know that sick feeling in the stomach, the crippling anxiety of what if I fail? What if I don’t get into the same college as my friends? What if Miss Jones is right and I SHOULD have taken more interest in Kristallnacht instead of checking my eyebrows in my Miss Sporty mirror? We understand the feeling of opening that envelope, palms sweating, your deputy head’s eyes on you as you look at the assortment of letters that will determine your future.
However, have you ever looked at results day from the perspective of the adults that see these students, often, more than their own parents? The teachers will all be there, watching and waiting.
The STW are in a very privileged, albeit nerve-wracking, position for tomorrow’s rite of passage. All of us are closely affiliated with education: some of us are teachers, with Lauren being an ex-teacher herself. We understand the rollercoaster that is results day all too well- we have to go through it EVERY year!
Here’s our round up of how results day wreaks havoc on our mental health:
- There is always a shock.
You can work all year ensuring your students know the difference between a noun and a verb, how to use Pythagorus and what haemoglobin is… but knowing how they did in their real exam is impossible. Many run out of their exam to find you (interrupting you trying to tame your challenging year 8 class) shouting “MISS THAT WENT SO WELL!” while others look forlorn and refuse to talk about the whole ordeal.
Every year, there is ALWAYS one student who doesn’t get the grade they deserve and it is truly heart breaking. You were SURE they understood it, but on the day it didn’t happen for them. Similarly, the kid that made your life hell all year ALWAYS seem to get their target grade. It’s well annoying.
To make this all the more infuriating, many teachers have to predict their class’s results, with accountability meetings held in the new term to discuss how “close” they came to their predictions. The shocks are completely unexplainable and NO teacher likes a shock. Well neither does any human. Unless it’s when their bank account has £20.36 instead of £3.92
2. You have to cope with disappointment.
It’s important to note that above we said naughty children always SEEM to scrape their target grade. It’s not always the way- thank God because we need all the ammo we can get when telling little Jimmy that he MUST learn the periodic table else he will fail.
One year, the child that made my life hell throughout year 11 didn’t get the C he arrogantly assumed he would. He firmly believed that making fun of everyone in the class was more important than listening to miss, that playing knock door run was more valuable in May than revising for his actual GCSEs. No matter what I said to him, what tactic I used, he would not listen to a word I said. He got a D- I knew he would. But I didn’t expect his reaction on results day. After scanning the page, he slowly walked over to me, his English teacher, stood in the corner of the room watching on. He had tears in his eyes and a shocked expression. “Guess you were right, miss.” I didn’t know what to say, so we stood in silence for a period of time, as I awkwardly patted him on the back, before he nodded and walked away.*
*He was in my resit class and passed 2 months later so YAY. I use him as an example to all my classes now as a last resort when they’re not working- always works a treat.
3. The dreams.
You know those recurring nightmares you get when you’re being chased by a lion down your street? Or when you turn up to school naked and everyone’s laughing at you? Try becoming a teacher and you LITERALLY have dreams where exam papers are chasing you down a corridor and you’re naked and students are laughing at you. And there’s lions.
Stress does awful things to your sleep and results day is no exception for teachers. If you do actually manage to battle the stress-induced insomnia, the dreams start anywhere from a month to a week before the big day and you start to actually feel better that nothing can be as bad as they were. Hopefully.
4. Your pay kind of depends on it.
No teacher works for the pay. Categorically. We are badly paid sales people. We sell our subjects to people that REALLY do not want to “buy” them. And will not be polite about telling you they feel this way (cue doodling on your table/thrown rubbers/chairs flying…) Essentially we’re those really annoying (timetabled) cold callers but in person, in a confined room, with hormonal little people that hate everyone. Really, we deserve a lot more money.
What many people fail to realise is that many teachers are paid based on their performance. If our class mostly performs well and meet their target grades, we get a (small) pay rise in our appraisal in September- which pays for all of the new stationary I have to buy after “your gay” [sic] or “Lennie dies” has been written on them. Perhaps this is where the stress dreams come in for some. With the housing ladder being every more impossible for young professionals to climb, this rise is often the difference in getting on it or not.
To make matters worse, many schools forget that the GCSE results are an accumulation of 5 years’ worth of teaching, not just the last member of staff who had them. This creates a slippery slope to September for the appraisal “reflection” conversations: “what could we have done differently? Could you have changed your seating plan? Could you have done more for them through providing stationary*?” but their crap attendance and constant misbehaviour is not allowed to be an excuse. Goodbye pay rise.
*(no because they wrote “Lennie dies” on it all.)
5. It’s an outer body experience.
You stand in the corner of the room, watching your students with their family and friends who you’ve never really met before. You imagine their face when they see the grades you quickly glanced at before piling in. You are completely powerless. You watch from the wings, eagerly anticipating the happy cheers, dreading the dawning realisation that they didn’t get their maths and will need to resit. Most of your students come and see you to share their delight or moan about their near misses. Some walk straight out of the door, without seeing you, into their new life and you never see them again.
But it’s okay, because whatever the results are, things always work out. And teachers always carry on, because it will be another class next year- a different set of tears, another elated hug, but the same emotional rollercoaster.