American author, Alan Lakein, paraphrased Benjamin Franklin when he said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That is quite a well-known saying, isn’t it? We keep returning to this phrase in our discussions with students as we try to encourage them to revise, prepare for assessment tasks, and complete assigned homework. The level, and quality, of student adherence to this advice tends to vary widely depending on the time of year and the proximity to exams, as well as the student’s own personality.
As we have discussed in previous newsletter entries, our School Philosophy promotes a Growth Mindset and Strength-based Approach to learning. This means that we believe that all students are capable of acquiring, and improving, their study habits.
One of the dimensions of the holistic education at our School is to teach Emotional Balance, whereby our students are given opportunities to challenge themselves to develop a strong sense of ability, self-confidence and a positive, self-reflective mindset. We believe Emotional Balance is a foundational part of each students’ ability to manage their study workload.
At All Saints Grammar, Emotional Balance also includes helping students to develop high levels of self-concept, self-efficacy, and self-regulation. These are all matters of perception and self-belief. What we know from research is that these perceptions can be affected by ‘cognitive load’, which, put simply, refers to having lots of competing ‘tasks’ – things to do – in a set period of time. All these tasks take up our brain’s space and capacity to handle our intellectual and emotional response so that we can cope with the pressure. If you would like to read some of the research in this area, I encourage you to have a look at this article by Tina Seufert (2018).
A few strategies that may help improve levels of self-regulation include:
Time management, at the core of which is the ability to prioritise and discern the urgent from the important. While it is true that everything has to be done, learning to organise tasks in order of importance and urgency goes a long way to then allocate appropriate time over the day to complete the tasks.
Idea organisers such as mind maps, are a very helpful way of learning to select and synthesise the most relevant information required for the completion of a task. It provides the necessary clues to start a discussion or the elaboration of key ideas.
Building self-confidence to take risks in the drafting of your work. Believing that you have completed the preliminary background work should provide you with enough confidence to ‘give things a go’. Don’t expect your first attempt to be perfect. Drafting (and, sometimes, redrafting) is essential in the process of developing a polished piece of work. The more you draft and edit your work, the better it will become.
And, of course, seek advice and feedback from peers and your teachers.
During this break, take some time to recharge and then make the time to revise, self-assess and identify areas where you may need to improve. You may not be there YET, but spending time developing better learning habits will improve your confidence, efficacy and self-regulation; all of which will lead to better learning performance.
I wish you all a very Blessed Easter. Enjoy a peaceful long weekend.
Deputy Head of School/Head of Secondary