As we begin the new academic year, many of our teachers have written to introduce themselves and provide background information about their coursework for the year. These communications are essential first steps in developing the partnership with parents that is needed for a successful year.
Over the next three weeks, we will be hosting a series of information evenings for parents that are designed to help to shape the year ahead for our students.
Our mantra this year is to embed a culture of high expectations in all that we do, from an academic perspective and also from a more holistic point of view. Students are encouraged to be curious, reflective, goal-orientated learners who commit to engaging in all aspects of Jewish life, enjoy participation in co-curricular programs and give of themselves through proactive community service.
All of our students need to begin the year with determination and the commitment to becoming the very best version of themselves. Our teachers will always be there to provide support and guidance and to encourage the students to play their part in partnering with us.
Mentors will be working with their Mentor groups to help their students set goals and manage their time effectively. The process of goal setting focuses the mind and forces students to be specific. The process requires commitment to timeframes. Large goals need to be broken down into smaller steps. Prioritisation of daily ‘to do lists’ then becomes critical as students learn to manage their time effectively.
Mentors will act as coaches, encouraging students to get organised and commit to their study schedules, work on improving their study skills and honestly reflect on their success in achieving their goals. We ask parents to also provide support and guidance to help manage effective home study. There will always be homework, as ongoing study is a critical component of routine for any student to be successful. The development of an effective study ‘habit’ needs to begin from Year 7.
The Queensland Brain Institute recommends the following simple strategies for study for students of all ages:
- Focus and don’t multi-task: Students need to reduce the amount of distraction and understand that multitasking is a myth. Trying to do two things at once (including listening to music) requires the brain to rapidly switch from one task to another making learning much less efficient.
- Sleep well to learn well: The brain actively replays activity patterns during sleep, which helps these patterns become embedded in the brain. When we learn something new, connections between our neurones change, which means that sleep is indispensable in creating long-term memories.
- Test yourself on what you have just read or reviewed: The process of actively recalling information helps deeper learning take place.
- Space out your learning: When you practice something, you give your brain further opportunity to strengthen neural pathways. An expanding schedule is best, with students advised to review coursework within a day, then a week, then a month to enhance recall.
Success breeds success! Students need to start with small steps and feel the joy of meeting their daily targets. All need to have the confidence that learning something new involves feeling challenged. They need to feel the uncertainty of realising that they are ‘in the pit’, that they need to concentrate and piece things together to develop their understanding of new topic areas.
There are so many inspirational quotations out there. I have left you with a few of my favourites:
“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”
– John Maxwell
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
– Mark Twain
“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
– Thomas Jefferson
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jan Hart is the Head of High School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.