By Jessica Montoya-
This year our finals schedule is very strange, because we have a weekend right in between. Principal Mark Larson gave me the explanation for how final exam days work.
“Number one, a lot of teachers really use that whole 90 minutes for an activity or a test. So for some teachers it wouldn’t be enough time to do what they wanted to do. Second, with a three-day final we get out at noon on the last two days. I think kids like that, but teachers like that too because it gives them a chance to get their grading done.”
We have fifteen minute break between exams. “For students that are taking test during that time, it’s a long time to be sitting. Research shows that you need a brain break every once in awhile.” Upperclassmen know how finals days look. but let’s give freshmen a sneak peek.
“Kids are really engaged, and really have a sense of urgency about what their grades are and want to do their best.” Larson has awesome advice, “Finals shouldn’t be about new information. Finals should be a review of things that students have been learning all semester. It should be about doing a great job everyday, every class period, paying attention, engaging, reading your notes, getting in those good study habits from now til the end of the year.” The best advice Larsen can give is, “Figure out what works for you as a student. Doing a little bit everyday instead of waiting until the end of the semester.”
During the finals, the review sheet won’t help you as much as our teachers. I interviewed Spanish teacher Janet Eckerson about her plans for finals.
“I’m starting to pay more attention to my kids that are struggling for whatever reason as we get closer to the semester. I’m really on top of my kids who are missing assignments, who need to come in for extra help. Keeping everyone aware of where we’re going so they can start to plan.” Eckerson’s advices for students is, “One, do not procrastinate. So if you got a big project, big assignment, or big test don’t wait until the last minute to do it break it down to smaller steps.”
What should your students expect from you to pass their finals? “ Students can expect from me clear expectations. How I’m going to evaluate your performance. I’m going to give you a rubric for that project, what needs to be done, so expect to have all the information to be successful.” What do you expect from students?
“ BE THERE, GET IT DONE, TURN IT IN! and if you’re not going to be there or can’t get it done, talk to me well in advance. Ask your questions.”
I interviewed Social Studies teacher Nancy Grant-Colson.
“I did start talking with kids about finals coming up. Just talking to my freshmen about their first official transcripts.” Grant-Colson also gives great advice, “Communication, like if they know something is wacky in their schedule. If they’re traveling to make sure they talk to their teachers so they can take those finals beforehand.” Grant-Colson has a message for you. “They need to understand that effort leads to achievement.” Grant-Colson’s finals are different from others. She wants students to get ready for the finals by, “balancing lots of information, balancing what you study, you’re balancing your sleep, you’re balancing if you are involved in extra activities.”
I asked upperclassmen for any advice for freshmen. Senior Viviana Villegas’advice is, “not skipping and always do what the teacher asks you to do.” Junior Sonia Rodriguez thinks differently. Rodriguez’ advice for freshmen is, “Keep up with your work in class, and pay attention! It will be less stressful. You will definitely feel great about yourself.”
How are you preparing for finals? Villegas, “Studying as much as I can.” Rodriguez, “Trying to keep organized. Figuring out what is important that way I can prepare myself.” What are your thoughts on the schedule? (Villegas), “I think that it would be good. It gives you time to study and relax for two days.”Rodriguez, “Honestly I really love that. This way I can focus on Friday’s finals, and study for two days later.” I interviewed Sandra Montoya Martinez (freshmen). Are you ready for finals Martinez?, “I am kinda ready.” What are your thoughts on finals Martinez?, “I think that finals are a good way to see what you have learned throughout the year, but I think they should make us a review sheet before we do the test.”
Finally, I asked Martinez what is the difference between middle school finals vs high school finals. “I think high school finals are harder and should be taken way more serious than middle school finals.” Finals are the greatest thing in high school, but it challenges us to be a better person.