Organise your time
Everyone is different – I cannot emphasise that too much. No-one learns in identically the same way as another person, not even identical twins – so you must organise your out of school learning in the most efficient way for you. However, there are some generic things which you can do which will help.
Time is different for everyone – yes I know all about time-zones and how they change as you go around the world but what I really mean here is are you a Lark or an Owl? Are you at your best before lunch or after lunch? Larks work best in the morning, they are up and taking things in at the crack of dawn. Owls, in contrast, only come to after mid-day and blossom in the evening.
This where we come to the important point. Teachers can teach until they are blue in the face, but it is your mind that does the learning, and it is only you who can make sure you learn. School classes consist of many different people, you are the person who decides what you learn. You must take the responsibility, and sort out the best way for you to learn – you are the only person who really knows, no-one else lives inside your head and really understands how you think. The first thing is to organise your time.
Whatever your age, you probably already know whether you are a Lark or an Owl. However, if you are not sure, try keeping a time log. You will have your time-table, whichever year you are in, copy out your time table, whether it runs over one week or two.
Use a reasonable space for each lesson and work out what kind of lesson it was
- Copying from the board or a book (visual lesson)
- Practical lesson – experiments, PE, home economics, art (kinaesthetic lesson)
- Mathematics, science, history, geography (likely to be both visual and/or aural, but always Logical and fact based)
- Discussing with teacher or other members of the class (Often this is an aural lesson, but may be practical or logical.)
- Working alone/ self-study such as Homework and/or single study work in class. (Individual or intrapersonal)
Rate it on a scale of 1-5 on:
- how effective you found your learning in terms of time e.g. was it a good time of day for you?
- The learning techniques used, did you take notes or rely on memory?
- What was the most effective part of the lesson for you?
- What would you do differently next time to improve your learning?
Can you see a pattern emerging? Are the best lessons in the morning or the afternoon? That will tell you whether you are a Lark or an Owl and give you ideas for organising your time, whether at school or at home.
Look at your homework timetable
This is usually given to you at the start of the year, but not all teachers set homework for all the time assigned.
Make sure that if you have not been set formal homework, you use that time effectively. Did you take notes in class? Sort them out – read through them. Find the gaps in the information, the bits you do not understand, and either look up the information in your text book or on the internet; if it still does not make sense, ask your teacher to explain. If you do this, more or less immediately, you will see where things do not make sense and problems will not build up.
Remember, intelligent people ask questions because they know where the gaps in their knowledge are.
Finally, when you are working on your own, do not work on a subject for more than an hour at a stretch. Lessons in school mostly last for an hour, that is because our good concentration lasts for about that length of time. If you work for 50 or 55 minutes, then have a ten-minute break and switch to another subject, your learning will be much more effective. This is you, taking charge of your life. These are skills which if you begin to practise them now, will help you throughout school, university and life. You in charge of you!