Friday, January 20, 2012

Tales from the Locker Room (and Other Stalk Worthy Places)


Okay, so I really don’t stalk the locker room, but I do pick up on some interesting things in my classroom and in the hallways. AND I have bribed a few former students into doing my dirty lurking. And I have some classes willing to answer some questions.


And since things are exam heavy in my neck of the teen-dom, I’m devoting this month to cramming studying. I asked about seventy students* how they study, why they don’t study. And discovered some very interesting rituals and superstitions as well.

Here’s what I learned…


Do they study for exams (finals and in general)?

The results were split about 60-40, with more students opting not to study. And when exams count 25% of their final semester average, I wondered WHY NOT?

I do better if I don’t study. (coming from one of my A students)

I jinx myself.

I’m usually fully prepared.

I’m too tired from work.

Because if I didn’t get it the first time, I won’t get it now.

I’m a good test taker, Studying stresses me out.

Because if I already know it, there’s no reason to study.

Because if I do study, I freak myself out and then I don’t remember the answer anyway.

I have found that if I study, I do worse than if I don’t study.

If I study, it wigs me out. Then I get all fidgety and mess up.


Those that do study? Do they spread the studying out over time? Or cram the night before?

I cram the night before—it’s just better for me to remember if I study all at once.

I spread my studying out over time so I won’t get frustrated or worried.

I study the night before—I retain more info.

It depends on the class.

I spread my studying into different categories and different days, like chapters, topics, etc.

I cram, because I just don’t feel like thinking about school.

I study one thing at a time to understand it better and so it’s not just one big blur.

I cram—otherwise I won’t remember anything.


Other study habits?


About half of my students preferred absolute silence. Others need music to get in the study groove.

Certain songs promote thinking.

I listen to music because when I remember lyrics I can remember what I studied, like a memory.

Most students prefer to study alone (I get distracted too easily with friends), and most need a quiet place to study, like their bedroom, a desk. The library.

I also asked them if their teachers gave them a review to study. And was it helpful? An overwhelming majority said YES.


What do my teens eat before their exams?

Many cited a healthy breakfast while several others can’t eat anything (sometimes I’m nervous if I’ve eaten a heavy meal. I will feel queasy.)

Here are some other pre-exam staples: fruit, eggs, cereal, smarties, peanut butter toast, bacon-egg-cheese biscuit, doughnuts, whatever the cafeteria has, oatmeal, OJ, fast food, PB&J sandwich, apple juice (because it calms my nerves!)


And finally, after twenty years of teaching, I’ve observed students enter test day with all sorts of “good luck charms.” One of my colleagues used to “bless the pencils” in an elaborate ceremony before every test.

So, do today’s teens have any rituals, superstitions, or good luck charms too?

I eat mints like crazy.

Lucky underwear.

My necklaces my dad gave me.

I listen to certain music.

Fave pen or pencil.

Pray.

I hug my best friend.

I will wear my chain necklace and my rings (all with sentimental value)

I eat a pack of Smarties.

Wish at 11:11.

A good night’s sleep.


So, sound like you back in the day? Did you have any peculiar study habits? Any good luck charms? Teen readers—tell us about your study rituals. And adult readers—what was exam week like for you?


PS—next month’s topic is Valentine’s Day, but I’m always open to suggestions for topics for this monthly post (no, really. I’m begging you—feed me a topic!) Anything you want to hear about from my teens? Let me know!

Also, want to join our mission? Click here for details!


*Students surveyed are what most would consider “average” students. One might get slightly different responses from say, an honors group. Or maybe not.

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