Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back To School: 1st Quarter Check Up - Are You Optimizing Your Academic Potential?

Secondary education can be extremely difficult for some young people. So how do you make your work load and learning experiences manageable and understandable?  If you are in middle or high school, or have a child in grades 6 -12, then this post is for you.  For professionals in a new working environment or experience, this post will also benefit you.

As an educational professional, student of sociology and a freelance makeup artist,  I understand the need for pre-teens and young adults to want to look stylish and fashionable, to be socially accepted, i.e. cool, well-liked and popular in school. Simultaneously, I understand what teachers want from young students and what will make them successful in school and in life.  This post is not about fashion or beauty! Although fashion and beauty are important aspects of our lives, in my opinion, it's the body of knowledge that you possess and your ability to critically think to solve problems and creating solutions are equally important - if not more important.  Secondary education provides that foundation to gain basic knowledge and to learn how to think critically.

To accompany the video I created, I wanted to go more in depth with this topic.  At the end of the day, formal education provides us with knowledge and skills that SHOULD be transferable to use and apply in the "real word."  Being in school teaches us other things about social interaction etc, but this post is focused on how to help you or your child get a better understanding of concepts his or her teacher wants them to learn.  These tips are not the ONLY things you can do, however, in my experiences as a teacher and a student, these tips are the foundation that will allow greater opportunities to be successful.

Tip #1: Be Organized. "In order to complete a task successfully, you need to manage your time."
Organization is more than just organizing your papers, supplies and making sure your physical objects are in the appropriate places.  Organization means planning, having a blue print or map of what you want to accomplish and how you will get there.
  • Prioritize your tasks.
  • Organize your day. Use a calendar. Write down your due dates AND daily tasks.
  • Set up your apps to send you reminders.
  • Parents: gently remind your child to remember their priorities! Children hate the constant nagging; quite frankly, we get tired OF nagging. But the truth is, they need reminders - whether they like it or not! We ALL need reminders every once and a while. In hindsight, appreciation will ensue.  
For Work: Sometimes in medium to fast paced environments, situations come up that require immediate attention.  Handle the situation and finalize the details, then return to your other tasks. If you find that time is of the essence, then work on the next most important task, try to finalize and table the rest of the duties for the next day. Go home. Relax and reset. 

Tip #2: Participate in Class. "You are now engaging with that information more frequently."
Class participation does more for you than you know.  It's not about being embarrassed because you may not have the right answer; it's about learning why the answer is correct.  IT'S OK IF YOU GIVE A WRONG RESPONSE IN CLASS. The feeling of embarrassment is a difficult emotion to over come.  But it really is about PERSPECTIVE and how YOU FEEL about YOURSELF and your EDUCATION.

  • The best lessons come from making mistakes.  Mistakes means you're trying, so participate. 
  • Engaging with information means to use it, question it, read about it, write about it, talk about it, think about it, analyze it; how does it make you feel, are you comfortable with it, what needs to happen to help me remember this?  
  • Participation means practice.  Use your resources in the practice phase of learning. Consult your notes from class, textbook, a friend who gets it, YouTube, Google Search, your parent or sibling, the dictionary. Connect new knowledge to old knowledge. It increases your 
  • Repeat, Recall, Repeat - Study. Make a song, make / use flashcards, re-write notes, tell a story, draw pictures, find pictures.  Try anything and everything until you recognize what study strategy works the best with the way you learn. The goal is to use it in working memory to store it in long term memory.  
  • Participation means effort.  Even if it takes you longer to master the material; say you scored poorly on a test, your teacher will recognize the effort you put forth in the practice/participation phase of learning and will find ways to help you boost your grade.  It also is a clear sign to your teachers that you need and will BENEFIT from additional help.  
For Work: Participation can be better transferred to interaction with your staff and colleagues. Something I have to remember is with EVERY EMAIL correspondence, follow up with a FACE to FACE conversation to provide support and encouragement.  This also gives you a gauge to determine how your staff or colleagues are responding to the directives.  Participation at work can also mean participating in those activities that shape and mold the direction of company goals; whether it means participating at meetings, or providing timely feedback - be visible and offer meaningful contributions. 

Tip #3: Be Responsible and Accountable. 
"If you know you have a test five days out, don't wait until the night before to cram."
This requires some other characteristics, such as motivation, diligence, perseverance, positive and realistic perspectives, and follow through. Once you hone the skill of organization, you now have to execute these plans to complete the tasks successfully.  Responsibility and accountability allow you to execute your plan with success being the result. 
  • Just Do It! Nike says it best. Don't give up. Quitting is ALWAYS the easiest way out. Guess what, quitting conditions you to NEVER complete tasks. You won't amount to much if you never follow through.
  • Preparing for tests, or quizzes, study a bit at a time. Chunking. Don't try to CRAM! Because you won't remember it when it's time for that quarterly cumulative test. This is the same for projects, research papers or reports for the working person. 
  • Use discretion. Make good choices that will help you achieve your goals.  Watch your favorite show later; DVR it; watch it On Demand. Complete your task. Making sacrifices are a must in achieving success in ANYTHING you do.  
  • If you make a poor choice, prepare to accept the aftermath and navigate through it as you would anything else. 

What Makes Me An Expert In This Field
As a 10 year Special Educator, I have worked and continue to work with students who have difficulties with learning.  It is my job to continue to assess children where they are, determine what their present level of performance is and to determine and implement strategies that will optimize learning opportunities and academic success over a period of time.  I am certified in the state of Virginia and in the final stages of earning a Masters degree in Academic Supervision and Administration.  With a background in Sociology, I have always been fascinated with youth, self-image and the influence of Pop Culture.  I combine all my different, but still related interests: the education of knowledge of self, personal self image, societal context and beauty, into my drive as a makeup artist.  The purpose of this post is to offer information that contributes to a complete, total person - beauty and KNOWLEDGE.  We all must learn HOW to learn in order to demonstrate that we HAVE LEARNED. Thanks for reading this post. I truly hope it can give you a new or reaffirming perspective on approaches to learning.

Lisa Rose MUA

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