Time to reflect?

Posted by on Aug 21, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

 

The press is full of doom and gloom about exam results. Exams are easier, grades are more generous, grades are tighter and the end is nigh. Not what you want to hear! This is a stressful time for teenagers and they really do need a lot of support at this time and reassurance that all is well. Once the dust has settled though and everyone feels calmer a little reflection is useful, especially if you didn’t get the grades you expected.

Again the press is full of helpful advice as to what to do if your A levels miss the target but year on year my concern lies with those students who don’t do well at AS level. Yr. 11 pupils enter sixth form full of aspiration but some have a shock. It is all change from the GCSE syllabus and a different work ethic is required. This comes just at a time when teenagers are enjoying a bit more freedom and sometimes it is difficult to get the balance right. There are more ‘free periods’ in the day and although it is a good idea to use these for study, who wants to study when you can drink coffee and socialise?

So supposing your AS results have been less than glorious- what do you do next? Re-takes! Well, yes, you can resit but do not underestimate the pressure you are going to put yourself under as you try to study and learn the new topics plus revise the ones you are going to resit. To be honest this requires the vital skills of organisation, time management and motivation.

The pupils I often work with in sixth form are in just such a position. They want to do better but how? Often their organisational skills have  been  poor and many times  I have sat down with a student with a bulging lever arch file. The papers are in no particular order, subjects and topics are muddled up and when we do come to put them order often vital parts are missing. If we go through this process at the beginning of the year we have time to work out a system and get strategies in place but all too often I am involved in this file sorting when we have only a few weeks till the exam.

If your file is in a mess, chances are your locker is in a mess and if your locker is in a mess so too is your bedroom. You have an organisation problem! The thing is you have lots of good intentions but when you look at these various disorganised areas you just don’t know where to start. You are overwhelmed. You see the big picture, the overview and sometimes it is just too frightening so you need help to chunk things down into manageable tasks.

You probably find it difficult to get to places on time too so use your phone. Set alarms and reminders so that you aren’t late for lessons or lectures and write a list of what you need to take with you. Time management can be a problem too. You are probably very social and like to network with friends, either face to face in the café or refectory, or by using your phone or computer. That’s great but you need to budget time and make sure you allow enough time for academic work, sport, socialising and chilling out. The socialising can be a problem if it gets out of hand.

Alex had found love over the internet. He got chatting to a girl over the net who  lived so far away it was impossible  to see her but she was on Skype every night. She had dropped out of school and was lonely and Alex just enjoyed chatting – for hours and hours. He would take his supper to his room and eat it in front of the computer and would often still be chatting into the early hours of the morning.  This meant he overslept, woke up grumpy, rowed with his parents and fell asleep in school. His marks suffered because he never had enough time to do his homework and was too tired to concentrate at school.

Wendy on the other hand was very bright and wanted to be a doctor but was unhappy because of peer group issues. When she got home she couldn’t face work but she did like to go on You Tube. Like Alex it became so engrossing that she just lost track of time most evenings and her coursework was late.

It’s not just computers and networking which can eat up time though. Harry was sporty and had a part time job in his local pub at the weekend. By the time he had played football on Saturday for the school team, come home and gone to work on Saturday night and again Sunday lunchtime he had little energy for anything else. He knew something had to give but he didn’t want to stop work because he was saving for his GAP year and he didn’t want to stop playing football because he was in the first team but neither did he want to do badly in his exams because he wanted to study law.

In all cases it was time for an audit. Like filling in a diet sheet the students filled in planners showing how they spent their time for a week. Alex needed to reclaim his life but instead of telling him to stop Skyping we agreed that he would cut down the amount of time and designate one evening as a Skype free evening. The first week was tough but by the second week he had hit his target. At the end of a month he realised that he had reclaimed his life and although he still spoke to his  girl friend he had a sense of proportion and was sleeping better and  looking so much more alert. He managed to get coursework in on time and his marks started to improve.

Wendy had to sort out some of her peer group issues and had help from a counsellor. Once she started to feel better we were able to work on her computer habit and factor in some relaxation time and homework time before looking at You Tube. Gradually she too achieved balance between work ad recreation.

Harry looked at his punishing schedule of sports practice, matches, working in the pub, wanting to take part in the school production and wanting good grades. He decided to stop working during term time and the pub offered him some shifts in the holidays when he was free. he negotiated with his coach to only attend 2 coaching sessions a week when he had coursework due and gradually got back on track. Harry tried to do as much of his school work in free periods as he could and cut down on the coffee time.

It is a question of prioritising and recognising what is important in the long term and what needs doing right now. So before you jump onto the resit bandwagon, think carefully about the skills you are going to need next term to complete work effectively. Check out:

Organisation

– are you well organised or do you need help

Time management

– can you manage time effectively and do you have enough time to accomplish all which you want to

Motivation

– are you up for some hard work. Do you have a goal you can focus on so that you know what you want to achieve.

 

These are the first 3 skills you need to have in place but there are more. look out for the next Blog. if you need help to get organised, increase motivation , improve time management and most of all feel good about yourself contact Frances on frances@francesgreen.com