With exams around the corner, motivation has finally hit.

Yesterday was the seniors’ last day and on Monday they begin the arduous task of writing a series of IB exams for which they have been working towards for two years.  Earlier in the week our IB coordinator probed the students to see how they are doing.  Some sat there dazed with blood shot eyes looking terrible, clearly already in a sleep-deprived state due to extreme study habits.  However, there were a couple who reported, “We’re chill”.  This alarming attitude concerned the IB team as the students still have a lot of review to complete from their two –year course.  “Chill” will not carry them.  Additionally, after the schedule was released, students noted that there was a 40-minute break between several sets of exams.  “So is that study time?” to which the IB coordinator responded, “No, this schedule does not build in study time.  You were supposed to be studying for the past two years”. 

More "chill" times: The 11th grade trip - taken just as the students began their two-year IB journey.

So, given the attitude of some of these students, who happen to be IB Biology candidates, I was left wondering if any of them would want review time with me before the exams.  Even though the seniors are not required to come to school unless they are writing an exam, IB teachers remain available during the students’ normal class hours (and beyond) to provide review sessions and/or answer questions in preparation for the impending exam.  I’ll admit, I didn’t expect that my seniors would come in today and I was secretly looking forward to having some extra time to work on our upcoming science fair, to do some research for my South Africa trip, to work on report card development, and quite frankly, address my gigantic “to do” list.

However, much to my surprise, my HL IB Biology students requested a review session and they had some very specific topics that they wanted me to cover.  So, I created a revision plan and met with these students this morning.  It was incredible!  The process of muscle contraction with all the details of action potential, calcium ion diffusion, troponin, actin, myosin heads, and ATPase clicked into place.  “This is so awesome” they exclaimed, “to think this is happening all the time.  It is amazing!” They flushed with excitement over their comprehension.  We moved on to ultrafiltration, selective reabsorption, and osmoregulation of the kidney.  The students bent over their notes carefully diagramming and annotating the nephron structure.  Questions flowed freely as they intently sought understanding.  Exceeding our normal time together by 5 minutes, they confidently claimed they thoroughly understood the functional processes of the kidney.  Equally awed by this amazing organ of our bodies they shared their wonder with me.   Then they discussed their study plan and made arrangements for the next review session, complete with a detailed request of material to be addressed.

As our IB coordinator noted, “It’s not a matter of if the IB exam mentality sets in, it’s a matter of when.  Four days before exams begin is a little late but at least it has arrived”.

It’s true, each group of seniors and every individual is different.  However, I do wonder, if there is a way to ignite the motivation much, much earlier.  Or, is it just human nature to wait until we actually feel the heat in order to act?