Help your Students Make a Positive Start to the Year!

The start of a new school year congers up mixed emotions for students and teachers alike – some negative (e.g. stress and anxiety), and some more positive (e.g. excitement and hope).

In particular, the first couple of weeks back presents a great opportunity for students to take a deep breath and prepare for the journey ahead.
Specifically, there’s a fantastic opportunity for teachers to both allay some of the negative energy, and harness the positive energy that students are no doubt feeling.

Helping students consider ‘how’ they will approach the year ahead will present a fantastic opportunity to help them get off to a positive start. Often, it’s the non-academic & self-management considerations which are most useful.
Below, we’ve clarified a number of helpful considerations that teachers can share with their students to help them have a successful year.

Accept Discomfort – The step up in difficulty and workload from the previous academic year will likely bring about many new challenges for students. However, growth rarely happens when discomfort is present, and feeling vulnerable and apprehensive is an inevitable part of development. A key reason to encourage students to accept discomfort is to allow them to take the emotional risk needed to try their hand at something new. Without this acceptance, students are likely to ‘avoid’ trying, and will succumb to stress & anxiety rather than learn to manage it. Furthermore, welcoming discomfort will also dampen the temptation to “cut corners”. Encouraging students to be ‘mindful’ of and to normalise their emotional state, will help improve their ability to be more accepting of discomfort as it occurs.

Get Organised – Although being organised does not guarantee optimal performance, it certainly does make things much easier. Keeping systems well-organised and free of clutter will enable students to optimise their time; encouraging a proactive rather than reactive mindset. Therefore, encouraging students to take the initial time in the New Year to establish their organisational systems is a very helpful consideration. After all, the time invested in setting up such systems will save considerable time and effort down the track.
Some ideas for students to consider include;
• Calendar & task manager; (e.g. diary, with reminders).
• Filing system – (i.e. a well thought-out way to compile and organise materials).
• Weekly Study Schedule
• Weekly review – (i.e. to enable students to monitor and adjust their work).

Get re-organised – Most students investing the time to organise themselves at the start of the year will inevitably reap the benefits of a ‘well-oiled system’. Files and notes will be in the right place and their study schedule will be on track. However, fast forward a couple months and everything is likely in disarray! This is called entropy; a general decline into disorder. Simply informing students that entropy is a normal occurrence – and they will need to periodically learn the discipline to re-organise themselves – will better prepare them for the realities of the school year. Just as school work requires constant attention, so too do the systems that enable organisation and productivity.

Consistent effort – Students will arguably be at their optimal level of motivation in the first few weeks of school. However, over time, the constant and repetitive nature of school will likely eat away at willpower and energy levels, tempting them into habits counterproductive to learning (e.g. procrastination and cramming). However, an ‘A’ in Maths will not be achieved over a month of good study, but rather over a semester of quality study sessions of hard work stacked up over time. After all, as the adage goes, anything that is worthwhile takes constant effort and persistence. Reminding students that the school year is a ‘marathon of short sprints’ hopefully clarifies this picture; a constant flow of high intensity work intermitted with breaks is required for success. This is more apt than describing the school year as a marathon (suggesting no breaks over the year) or just a long sprint up to exam period (suggesting cramming)!

The New Year will likely bring about many challenges for students. Hopefully, sharing the aforementioned considerations with your students will help set them up for a successful year!

Best of luck for the year ahead.

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