Sometimes I don’t totally understand why something I do helps a student! A couple of weeks ago I gave a chemistry test. I had several phone calls from one of my student’s parents and five emails from her son telling me he was not ready for the test and that he didn’t know anything on it. His mother described him as "on the verge of a nervous breakdown." The test was the next morning.
I didn’t know what to do. I knew that when someone is emotional they can’t learn much, and I also knew he had an English test the next day, too. So, I said, "Do not study any more for this test. You are too emotional and studying isn’t going to do you any good. Study for your English test instead."
When he came in to take the test the next morning, I asked him if he would like to have the test one page at a time.
"Could I? That would be great!"
So I sat near him and gave him one page at a time. He knew the test was four pages long. He completed page one, gave it to me, and asked for page two. He completed page two and then asked for page one again. It went on throughout the period, and I was noticing that his answers seemed pretty good! I was afraid that he would go back and change correct answers because he’s done that before. But, he didn’t. In fact -- he made a "C" on the test which we were both very happy about. He claimed that getting only one page at a time helped him to relax.
Why? I don’t know. If he didn’t know how long the test was I might think it kept him from feeling overwhelmed. But, he did know. Since it did help him, I will continue to do it for him. Sometimes, the simplest things can be a really big help.