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Six for Sixth Year: Advice for Leaving Cert Teachers

While my last post focused on tips for incoming Leaving Cert students, it’s important to remember that Leaving Cert teachers may also feel nervous at the beginning of a new school year. Whether a teacher is a Leaving Cert veteran or taking on a sixth year class for the first time, the idea of spending the next nine months preparing a group of students for their exams can be daunting. The advice below is inspired by the excellent teachers I have worked with both before my own Leaving Cert in 2013 and in my role as a study advisor at Adaptemy, and these tips will allow you to bring out the best in your students and achieve the results you deserve.

1. Work with your students

Showing your students that you’re all in this together throughout the year is vital for successful Leaving Cert preparation. Neglecting to explain your reasons for giving homework, tests, and harsh feedback may lead to resentful feelings if your students feel that you’re asking too much of them. Ask for input from the class and listen to their suggestions, particularly in subjects such as English where sharing ideas can encourage critical thinking. Make it easy for your students to succeed by providing them with the information they need and working together throughout the year.

2. Be approachable

Making time before, during, or after class to answer questions and provide guidance will allow teachers to solve problems as they arise. Setting up an email address for your class can provide quiet students with an opportunity to approach you away from the classroom setting. Frequently ask your students if they understand the material and go through concepts with individual students if necessary. Offer to correct extra work and provide practice oral and practical exams, but avoid doing for one student what you wouldn’t be willing to do for the whole class.

3. Stay organised

While Leaving Cert students are often reminded of the benefits of staying organised, these benefits also apply to sixth year teachers. Having material such as handouts and textbooks ready allows teachers to avoid wasting class time, as does arriving on time. Students appreciate when homework and tests are corrected as quickly as possible, and leaving work to be completed when you’re absent can keep things moving until your return. Having a rough schedule for the year ensures that you won’t forget a topic or rush through the end of the course just before the exams.

4. Get creative

Teachers who have worked with Leaving Cert students in the past may benefit from introducing new methods into their classroom. Simple ideas such as getting students involved in making educational posters for the classroom can keep things interesting, as can involving technology in your teaching. Students can learn from online content during class, and setting up a class blog or Twitter account can reinforce learning outside of the classroom. Ask students for creative new ideas and remember that new teaching methods can be fun and exciting.

5. Work with other teachers

Drawing on the knowledge and experience of other teachers can provide support and ideas throughout the year. Teachers in your school may give second opinions on student work or provide an opportunity to join two Leaving Cert classes, allowing students to learn from each other. Teachers with more experience with sixth year students can be a source of knowledge and advice, and newer teachers may have a fresh perspective and different teaching methods. Online platforms such as Twitter also provide opportunities to connect with and learn from educators around the world.

6. Stay calm

Whether you are an experienced Leaving Cert teacher or new to sixth year students, it is natural to feel nervous for your class. Maintaining a positive attitude will benefit your students, particularly later in the year when the pressure starts to build. Do your best to facilitate the success of every student, but recognise that they must participate and work independently when your job is done. Making time for your other students and for yourself is just as important as preparing for the Leaving Cert.

Armed with the above advice, every Leaving Cert teacher can have an enjoyable and successful year with their students. Tweet us @adaptemy and let us know your tips for teaching sixth year classes!