Get on course for the new academic year

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Do you want to think about Autumn 2013 now? Of course you do. All too soon the Summer Holidays will be over and a whole year of new challenges will lie ahead, both for you and your pupils.

I have met many interesting people this past year and the it seems to me that one of the biggest problems for students is coping with academic work in the age of distraction. It has certainly been an eye opener for me!

Obviously I was aware that teenagers today have many more calls on their time ranging from their mobile phone through social media and just the variety of online and offline activities which are available to them. What I hadn’t appreciated though, was how many hours and how all consuming something such as YouTube was. Some students are spending over 6 hours a night on such activities, often up to the early hours of the morning, which affects their sleep pattern, which in turn effects their academic performance and a merry go round of underachievement begins. This year I have met many more students who are not achieving their full potential because of an ‘addiction’ to the pleasures of the internet.

I will be offering a range of sessions in the new academic year, kicking off with Recovery Remedy for Year 13. This will be aimed at those students entering Year 13 with disappointing AS results and will include individual learning preference profiles and cover organisation, time management and concentration.

In the first instance I think pupils need to rethink their study techniques if their results were poor and unless they know how they study and what works best for them they are not going to be able to improve their grades.

Those who underachieve often have problems with time management and organisation with procrastination being high on the agenda. Motivation is often a problem and their self esteem will also need a boost. When pupils are aware of what will work for them and how best to manage time and improve their concentration they often gain a new lease of life!

Another important package I will be offering will be for Year 9 pupils. I think Year 9 is one of the most important years in the school. Pupils are busy upgrading their brains and they discover all sorts of new slants on life. Girls discover that boys are really rather interesting and they jostle for position within the social groupings at school. They are risk takers at this stage and will be keen to try all sorts of new experiences, different substances, sex – you name it they want to try it. Parents might realise that they have a cantankerous girl or a monosyllabic boy on their hands and will wonder what has hit the household! Stressfull as this time can be for both parents and teachers, it is a time when you can really capture the imagination of these young teens. They want to try new things so give them new and exciting things in the classroom. Most importantly, make sure they are on the right track.

Abbie was in Year 9 and had been transformed from a well behaved pupil to one who was forever being in trouble for not doing homework. Every week she had a clutch of reports from teachers complaining about her inability to hand in work. The reaction was to put her in detention which just made her more truculent. When she came to see me, she was the typical sulky teenager. She happily filled in her analysis and we talked through what her favourite subjects were and how she learned best. Eventually we got around to talking about the fact that she didn’t like finishing work off ( this shows up on her analysis) and the fact that she wasn’t at her best in the mornings ( this is also shown in the assessment). During our chat it transpired that when she went home in the evening there wasn’t anyone there so she had a snack and watched TV. Her mother worked late every night and her brother was at university. When her mother did come home there was usually an argument about why Abbie wasn’t doing her homework so she stomped off to her room and used her computer till the early hours which was why she was half asleep in her morning classes. Over a period of weeks she stayed in school on 2 evenings to work for an extra hour in the library. There were plenty of other pupils doing work there too so she didn’t stand out. Gradually, she got back on track, handed all her work in and started to get good marks. In Year 10 i would bump into her occasionally and she was always keen to update on her progress which was very good. Maths had been her interest and she regularly got A grades but other subjects fared just as well. it was only a small, but timely, intervention which I am convinced stopped Abbie derailing her academic progress. My point is that the Learning Style Analysis was the start of a conversation which gently unearths some of the underlying problems. Abbie also had concentration issues but by tackling them in Year 9 she had the tools in place to confidently sail through the GCSE years.

I might be biased but I think assessing Learning Preferences in Year 9, giving the pupils tools to work out how they might study best and helping them address issues such as concentration and knowing how to get down to work, how to chunk work effectively etc. is well worth doing. Also teaching them how to listen and stimulating a love of reading is important.

So in the Autumn Term my first courses will be for Year 13 and Year 9, plus an introduction to Study Skills for Year 12. Details will be posted on my website in the next week or so but please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested. I am happy to tailor sessions to your requirements and also willing to travel! Make a difference to your pupils this Autumn and for parents one to one sessions are available for any truculent teens!