Study Skills and Learning

Balancing Work and Rest

Author: Mr Tyson Kenny - Deputy Principal

This week’s bible passage is an important reminder for us all, and perhaps particularly timely for students currently in the throes of completing end of term assessment.

My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches.

Job 29:19

Earlier this term I reflected upon and shared the importance of students working hard to ‘get the little things right’.  My focus was largely directed at students developing certain study habits and ensuring they complete school work not only in class, but most importantly, between classes through effective homework and study practices. This week’s bible verse also reminds us that between lessons, and perhaps towards the end of a busy term, students who have worked hard need to ensure they are also well rested.  I realise this is easier said than done, especially in the busyness of the assessment period many students are currently facing.   

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If you are currently a student working hard to achieve your best in your assessments, I remind you to plan for sufficient rest during this time.  Yes, I’m sure there may be a late night or two, studying hard to ensure that you are well prepared to complete an exam the next day; however, it’s important that the mind is also well rested, perhaps with a good night’s sleep and through healthy eating and hydration.

Just like an athlete preparing for a race or an upcoming competition, the most successful athletes, and I believe students, realise how important it is to get the balance right between working hard and rest.  Obviously, too much of one can throw this balance out of whack – with too much rest not sufficiently equipping the athlete or student to achieve their best, and too much training or study without enough rest causing one to under perform.  God encourages all of us to seek and enjoy rest.  Those that also find rest in Him are particularly blessed to experience His love, both in times of stress (i.e. late night’s studying hard) and in rest.

For families currently trying to support their student with achieving this balance, I encourage you to engage your student through regular conversation.  If they are struggling to achieve a sufficient study load outside of school, try and support them with developing certain routines that allow them enough time and opportunity to complete this work.  I know many parents engage with the Study Skills Handbook website, which the College subscribes to and communicates logon details through the Enews regularly.  Many parents/carers have commented how useful this website has been for supporting their student with developing important study habits at home.

For families of students who are currently struggling to achieve sufficient rest, make sure you speak with them about this.  In these discussions, try and determine what are the things that are stopping them from properly resting, and if it’s to do with a particular subject that’s proving challenging, encourage them to contact their teacher for support, rather than stressing at home and becoming too worked up about it.  I realise that there can be many other reasons students can struggle to achieve sufficient rest, such as having too many technology distractions, but I believe the key to finding the best balance for each student concerning their work habits and achieving sufficient rest, starts with dialogue between parents/carers and their student.

I wish every student success during this assessment period.  I also pray that you each experience much rest over the upcoming holidays, which allows you to be renewed and re-energised for the new school term and the many important learning opportunities it will bring.

The Foundations of Learning

Author: Tyson Kenny, Deputy Principal

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

Luke 6:46-48

This week’s bible passage is the perfect message for all students at the start of the school year to learn and apply in their lives.  As most of us know, achieving well as a learner takes a great deal of hard work and determination.  Sure, advanced general knowledge and having a high level of intelligence would be helpful, but a foundation of regular study habits and learning routines are by far the greatest ingredient in order to be a successful student.

I remember a few years ago encouraging students to ‘get the little things right’, as this then allows the bigger things in life to not seem so insurmountable.  I’m confident that in a few years from now, I will still be sharing a message like this with students.

As we learn in life, change is inevitable; however, during our lives, we also come to know and understand that certain things never change.  It’s these things, like the importance of hard work, which can be easy to know, but sometimes difficult to always apply.

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For students this year, I hope they can, bit by bit, and just like the message of building a house, slowly take the time and energy to build and develop their study habits.  Not everyone has the ability to achieve an ‘A’, well at least not straightaway; however, everyone has the ability to control their choices when they enter a classroom or sit down at home to complete homework.  When entering a classroom, those that enter with a mindset to do their best, answer as many questions and indeed ask questions themselves, are laying the foundations to be a successful learner.   

To be a successful student, there also needs to be a level of commitment demonstrated outside of the classroom when at home.  I fully agree that students need to also have a certain level of downtime and social interaction outside of school hours; however, their progress as a learner  should not only be confined to the 5 hours of curriculum they complete on a school day for 40 weeks of the year.

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Homework does not necessarily have to be completing more questions that were done in class again and again.  It can also be completing general research into interesting things which are currently being learned, practising new skills, reading up on different and competing theories, sharing new knowledge with family or friends, or working on an item of assessment.  Perhaps homework should be rephrased to ‘home learning’ and completed by every student whether or not they are specifically told by their teachers that day that they have certain homework (or home learning) to complete.

It is clear that to be a successful learner, which certainly has not changed in my lifetime, students need to develop strong foundations of consistent study habits, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Those that do, and are prepared to do their best day-by-day, class-by-class, have the greatest opportunity for fulfil their God given potential.

I encourage all students this year to embrace every learning activity or task as an opportunity to develop as a learner.  Those that do will not only strengthen their foundation as a learner, but also broaden their future prospects in life, both during and post their secondary education.

Back to School: 8 simple tips to start classes off on the right foot

Author: Mrs Megan Barrett, Year 12 Coordinator

Starting things off on the right foot will keep you thriving throughout the term.  Use these simple tips to help you get in the swing of things as you settle into the school year.

1.  Show up for class on time

To some, this may seem like a no-brainer, but so many important messages and curriculum content are given at the beginning of the lesson, while your brain is fresh. 

2.  Come with an open mind

When you’re getting a feel for the class, stay open to learning what the class will be about, even if it’s not exactly what you expected or if the teacher teaches in a less conventional fashion. Start to see what you might be able to get out of class and what you might be able to contribute to the learning environment.  Part of this focus also includes setting aside things like social media.

3.  Do everyone a public service and ask questions

You’ve heard it before–if you’re confused about something, someone else probably is too. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask those questions. Not everyone has the self-confidence to speak up in class, but finding your voice will be a relief for yourself and others.

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4.   Organise that planner

Organising–and keeping–a planner is your best way to stay mentally and visually organised.  Make good use of your school E-Diary by writing in your due dates. 

5.  Minimize distractions

Use or a timer and self-discipline to zero in on tasks and maximise your productivity. To do this, determine an amount of time you want to devote your attention to homework, study or an assignment. An hour is usually a good chunk. Set a timer if you don’t trust yourself–and get to work.

6.  Find healthy ways to get back in the swing of things

Take a step back and schedule time to do something that is healthy for yourself. Whether that means spending a little time with friends, going on a run or simply doing something you enjoy.  Most importantly make sure you get a good night’s sleep so you are well rested to tackle the day. 

7.  Be proactive when issues start to come up

One of the key things that you need to do if you start feeling like you’re overwhelmed and you can’t finish things, or there’s something else going on, it’s really important for you to make that first step and contact your teacher or year co-ordinator in person if possible.

8.  Keep an academic journal

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What is an academic journal you may ask? Similar to a journal, but instead of writing about how you’re feeling (which is great to do as well), write about what you’re learning. Classes can move quickly and you forget things that you later might find useful, but if you write them down, you’ll be able to look back. You may find things you learned in one class that you can use for another, or ideas you had for a future essay or other assignment.  It’ll help you to have breadcrumbs to follow your way back about what you learned over the term and how that might be useful or interesting as you move forward. It’s a way for you to gauge your own progress as you grow. 

Starting the school year off right sets you up for success and gets you in the swing of productivity and productivity, and having a plan helps you go in feeling confident and prepared to tackle your schedule. Keep these tips in mind this school year.