The IB Results will be with us tomorrow; it’s a little bit like waiting for Christmas day only you really don’t know what Santa will bring. He won’t necessarily reward kids for being good and hard-working! I noticed that Betsy seemed a little bit out of sorts yesterday and couldn’t quite figure out why. Don’t get my wrong it was nothing that a sing-a-long in the Land Rover on the way back home from her Nanna’s didn’t set right, but I guess she is starting to feel a bit nervous!
Yesterday I had re-visited my own book to explore what to do for preparing for university if her results are pleasing. Today, I’ve just read the next couple of pages to get some tips about what to do if the results don’t quite live up to expectations.
Disappointing Results. If tomorrow your child is disappointed get that ‘brave face’ out of its box and have Option B at the ready. If they are just a few points short of what they hoped to achieve then get straight in touch with your school’s IB Coordinator and/or College Counsellor who will have advice to share. Have the contact details ready and act promptly. It is definitely worth calling universities to ask them to reconsider their offer.
Don’t Assume it’s in the Bag. Bets is hoping to go to the UK, but in some countries eg the USA, places are offered on an unconditional basis before results are released. There is a slim chance that universities can rescind offers so whilst I don’t want to be all doom and gloom just be aware that this could happen. In this case you might need your best negotiating skills at hand to persuade the Admissions Officers to change their mind.
Encourage Independence. This one is hard for me as I’m such a micro-manager, but I guess it makes sense to encourage your kid to be independent when sorting out university entrance problems. Ideally, they should be the one making contact with university Admissions Officers.
Self-Promotion. Encourage your child to sell themself. Have them create a list of all the things that they can say to the person at the other end of the phone about why they ought to be accepted on a course. In cases where students are close to achieving their predicted grades university places are often still awarded, especially if the applicant can make a convincing case on the phone for why they should be allowed to attend.
Stay Positive. In the UK it often takes a day or two for a university to make a decision about whether to accept a student or not. Try to stay positive and be patient. Easily said and very hard to do! I’d say keep busy.
Not Quite There. If your child narrowly misses attaining their predicted score then they will probably have enough points to automatically be offered a place at their second choice of university. In this case do all you can to make the second choice become the favourite after all! However, if they narrowly miss the points needed for this they will be entered into the University Clearing Process. This opens in August and aims to match students to unallocated university places. Most other countries don’t have such a centralised system and you are far more likely to find yourself negotiating with universities directly, so we’re in a good position from that respect.
Re-Marks. It is possible to have exam papers re-marked. If the grade is changed then this is free, if not then you will need to pay. The IB Coordinator will be able to assist you in the process for doing this. Be warned that marks may go down as well as up so take advice from school about the exam papers you wish to have remarked. It is useful to know how close your child was to the next grade before appealing.
Re-Sits. Know prior to Results Day whether re-sits are possible at your child’s school. I’m really hoping that we don’t have to do this as statistically re-sits tend not to be so successful. I think everyone has lost their mojo for doing well. Re-sits take place in November, so unless you child is going to Australia or New Zealand that means a year’s delay.
Gosh, I think my blood pressure is going up again but really that’s all I have to say about managing this situation. I’m trying to avoid being glib by suggesting that if things go badly then the IB can stuff their results up their … or anything so coarse!
Hopefully this will be the least useful post I’ve ever written and parents and students across the nations will be jumping for joy! As I said yesterday, though, it isn’t the end of the world if things go badly. I think whatever results will emerge our kids will be in need of a big hug. It might also be good to distract them from obsessing about them. We’re going to be driving to Edinburgh in a very old, noisy and uncomfy Land Rover. I’m hoping hours at the roadside waiting for the AA won’t be our form of distraction but you never know…
To all IB (and in August) A Level students and of course mums and dads. Good luck with your results.
As a family we are going up to Edinburgh at the weekend. Saturday is also the day that Betsy is due to get her IB results - yikes! We've been saying we will need to be somewhere with good internet access and phone reception, both for receiving the results and completing any follow up emailing or phoning regarding university places.
This is probably going to sound a bit daft, but I genuinely have just revisited my own book (co-written with Lorraine Illing and illustrated by NokIsMe), giving advice for parents surviving the IB. I needed to find out what to do both in the positive situation that the results are what Betsy hopes for, or in the (fingers crossed this won't happen) sticky situtation if they are not.
It is hard to believe that it is two years since Annie went through the IB and Betsy completed her IGCSEs, yet here we are again. Annie has already had her results for her second year at UCL, and all good there (well done Anniepops!), but I can't pretend I'm not nervous about Betsy's IB. It's a gruelling course, entailing studying six subjects along with completing Community, Action and Service based activities and doing a 4000 word Extended Essay plus some Theory of Knowledge learning too - great preparation for uni but a blooming challenge and no mistake!
Anyway, I've decided to focus on the positive in this post. If you've not been through the IB before, (and I'm pretty confident A levels are similar) these might be useful tips for next steps if the results your child receives are what they need to go university.
In the next few days, check out the process for accepting university places. If your child's results are available online, eg at the IBO website, make sure that they know their username and password and what time they are available. Don't panic if the site goes down, there will be massive demand on the server so you might need to wait a bit for them. Have the correct info to hand for applying to university and accessing school support. This is especially important if, like us, you are not going to be at home.
Check your Correspondence
Once your offspring has accepted a uni offer make sure that they keep up with the correspondence from them. It is easy to neglect emails in the summer. Be careful not to as you can miss out on important information such as accommodation offers, health care information, activities and insurance.
With the accommodation Annie was contacted by university catering and accommodation departments to make or confirm choices about the type of room and the catering options they offer. If this doesn’t happen then don't wait too long before contacting the university accommodation department yourself. Worldwide, first year students and particularly international students are given priority for accommodation on campus or in the city near the study areas. I'd recommend finding out when registration for accommodation opens as for some universities it is distributed on a first-come first-serve basis.
It is likely that your child will be given loads of info about things s/he can join. I'd encourage signing up now and engaging in uni social media groups. Your child will probably be invited to join the Student Union facebook page which will have lots of information about Freshers’ Week and upcoming events.
Health Care Provision
When Annie went to uni getting signed up at a Health Centre was a pain, so once you have a place it might be worth getting this done early, or at least setting the wheels in motion. It's also worth checking any vaccine requirements the university stipulates.
If your child does super well then they might be eligible to apply for a scholarship. If you receive good news on 'exam results day' then be sure to double check for this perk, as that would be lovely.
Blimey, writing all that, has just made me nervous all over again about the results. The kids put so much pressure on themselves, these days, that probably the biggest tip of all is to make sure that whatever happens, your child is reassured that if the results aren't quite what they'd hoped for then it isn't the end of the world. Of course, we want our kids to do well, especially if they've bust a gut to do so, but at the end of the day, life will go on. There's no way, in my view, that young people should feel defined by their school exam results. Gosh that sounded quite sincere for me. Time for a reality check - looking around our living room Annie is lying on the sofa wearing Christmas pyjamas, nagging her dad to set up his new scalextric set. I'm thinking that a bike (to enable healthy living) might have been a better present and am a tad regretful of my rashness re the purchase of aforementioned scalextric! Betsy, on the other hand, is in trouble for using bad language whilst watching Love Island! The nerves have abated and normal service resumes.
(I've just re-read this post, some weeks after I first wrote it. Since then I've had the privilege of reading the this post by Katrina about the sad loss of her child to trisonomy 13. It was humbling to read and provided perspective. Do take a look at her website if you have a moment.)
So the end of term is upon all my teacher friends. It's a bit weird to not be there for the end of term leavers' assembly and it's odd to think that now both girls have left school there really is very little reason to return to Patana. It has been a large part of all our lives. It sounds cliched but school becomes more than just a place of work. We've all made some lifelong friends through work and I guess school has been the centre of our social and work lives. Anyway, now there's only Saint Mick of Thana left at school. He's had a very busy week running around helping organise set ups for assemblies, (I actually just came across the clip of Betsy's leavers assembly on youtube, it shows Patana doesn't do things by halves!), wishing the leaving kids luck for their future and all the other unseen stuff that goes on behind the scenes. It really is the end of an era and a time of change for us all. I know next year he will miss seeing Betsy around the place a lot. Any expat teachers who have kids at the same school where they work will know what I mean .
I'm lucky as the advent of social media has meant that I am in touch with lots of alumni students, not only from Patana, but from the other schools I worked at. I feel privileged to have taught these young men and women. Only this week I received a lovely message from a girl, Victoria, (sorry woman) I taught in my very first teaching role at Fakenham High School, saying that I was that teacher in the quote below. I was hugely flattered and touched, but it was a long time ago and maybe her memory cells have gone a bit skewey! I must have done something right though, as Vic treated me to a lovely 'afternoon tea' in London last summer when I was back in the UK. My kind of ex-student friend!
It acutally makes me feel pretty humble to get nice notes and so on from ex-students and to think that I had played a tiny-teeny part in their road to success. It has also made me reflect on the responsibility associated with the role. (I bet it would have freaked me out if I'd reflected on that too much when I actually was a teacher!) Another student I taught, Hanoi Lamtharn once told me (though a long time ago now) how something relatively small that I had done made a huge difference to hismotivaton levels when he was feeling fed up of all the IGCSE English revision he had. All I had done was write him a little good luck card with a personal message and target, but it had clearly hit the spot. I think when students are appreciated as individuals, rather than just one more kid in the class it is is incredibly empowering for them.
Here are some other things that my teacher friends have done to make their students feel special:
I think it is testament to teachers' dedication and willingness to go over and above for their kids that they have found the energy to do this. I can see that they are a lovely way to start the summer and, I guess, a reminder for the teacher too of all the good bits of the year. Its hard work but I know that I have welcomed, very much, the friendly and positive correspondence in this vein, from Betsy's fabulous Head of Year. It has meant a lot to know that she has been genuinely cared for. Thanks Claire.
Anyway, I think that really is it for me in terms of teacher talk. The era is offically ended. From now on my blog posts will be strictly about Porsche, oh no, I mean Landrover driving. A little hint about what Saint Mick of Thana might be getting for his birthday. Happy holidays everyone.
I've just discovered Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfections, which I'm listening to as an audio book whilst I swim. It makes a very welcome change to Haruki Murakami's Killing Commandatore which I've recently finished. It wasn't that Killing Commandatore wasn't interesting to listen to, but at 700 plus pages, I think I could have swum to Thailand in the time it took to get through it!
Anyway, Brene Brown's text is a very different type of book. It's non-fiction self-help and explores the obstacles to happiness and how to be courageous in facing our imperfections and making connections (or something like that anyway!). I haven't listened to much yet, but so far there is lots to be interested in and to enjoy. It too might be better to read a print version of (a friend mentioned, quite often within it, you want to pause and reflect on how her observations resonate personally) as by the time I've finished my swim I can't always bring to mind what Brene Brown has said (perhaps my 50 year sieve for a brain), but one comment she made did get me thinking.
She commented on how in restaurants kids spend loads of time on their 'screens' when instead the family could be making connections. It was, I think a fairly insignifcant remark and I get the feeling that Brene Brown would be very open to discussing this, but I'm not sure if I agree or not.
I do get the whole thing about screen time and how it restricts conversation, but I can't help just being a little bit defensive about using screens too. I think any kind of 'babysitter' at meals can be a very good thing. When my own girls were young screens were still in their infancy - the most hi-tech phone was a brick like Nokia and a gameboy was a luxury item - so we took crayons and a colouring book everywhere we went. Rather than being criitcised for bringing something to occupy the kids with us, we used to get praised for the foresight in doing so. This is different to parents today who are criticised and berated for giving kids tablets or phones to occupy them.
I've been trying to figure out the difference between screens and colouring and why one is deemed ok and the other isn't.
The colouring argument:
The screen argument:
Therefore according to this it seems screens might come out on top. (I'm fairly sure I haven't created this bias simply because of my own ridiculously high daily screen time consumption, as reported to me by my trusty I-phone!)
Actually, if I had to comment on what I think the very best 'babysitter for kids' is I'd say engaging with books (even for pre-readers). Of course this does require some independence, but then so does colouring and using screens. I think it always makes sense to have a pile of books in the back of the car or in a bag at all times when out with kids. Anyone who knows me though will know that a book is my answer to pretty much everything! Stories can be accessed on screen of course, but there is nothing like the tactile feel of a printed book!
As we have been talking about crayons the following picture books spring to mind to include in that pile in the car: Drew Daywalt's and Oliver Jeffer's The Day the Crayons Quit and the Day the Crayons Came Home.They're both lovely stories with a strong moral, plenty to discuss and plenty of humour too. And, whilst I am definitely not putting myself up there with the likes of Jeffers I guess as we are talking about screens or otherwise then I'll give my own story 'The Day the Wi-Fi Broke' a mention. It is available on Kindle and hard copy too, not that I'm sitting on the fence! It really does work well for exploring balance in the use of computers and the kids I've read it with have loved it. I figure it's ok to give myelf a little pat on the back from time time. If I don't then who else will and I'm sure Brene Brown would approve :).
I have just spent a pleasant hour reading the Kate Greenaway medal shortlisted titles for this year. It made me sad and nostalgic that I won't get to share them with the kids at school. We have always enjoyed reading them, voting for our favourite title and discussing the issues they explored. The kids made connections, sometimes even to the previous year's titles and remembered the stories way after I'd forgetten them. Sometimes we added to this a little research activity, author study quiz, or creative writing and drawing extension activity, though for me, it was always sharing the story that was fun. I'm not a big believer in forcing written responses to reading (it kind of kills the magic). Anyway, I didn't always realise it, but those were fun days.
There are, however, certain advantages to reading the books alone, by myself, from the comfort of a sofa, not least being able to enjoy a cup of tea and a hob-nob as I read. Despite being a little regretful to not be having the follow on discussion and excitement that sharing books with little people brings, I still enjoyed them and as stories are 'want to do' they got me thinking. It sort of felt like a ton of rusty doors in my old grey matter had been opened, with each room having a different set of thoughts and issues to ponder on. Consequently I've now got absolutely no idea what to blog about. There are just so many options! Will it be one of these things?:
As I say, I'm not always a fan of using reading to do follow up written work, so perhaps today I'll take it easy and just enjoy having read the Kate Greenaway stories for no reason other than the enjoyment of reading them. I'll keep the personal, social and political follow-on reflections in my head. That is, until tomorrow at least!