Active listening is an important skill to master, yet often a difficult one to put into practice. Provide non-verbal feedback cues to your teacher such as nodding your head, consciously recalling what you are hearing, and trying to put the lesson into the greater context of your subject.
Ask yourself why this is an important concept to learn in relation to the rest of the study rubric. To test your comprehension and recall, listen to a conversation on the bus or between your parents for 10 minutes. Jot down the major points of the conversation after and assess whether you were able to retain what was said. This will fine-tune your listening skills and help you to engage in class.
Oftentimes, we assume we will remember information simply by listening. This may be true to a certain extent, but you can’t trust that you absorbed the depth or detail of a topic. In class, take notes! Consume your teacher’s lecture, write them down in your own words and highlight key points as emphasised by your teacher. Create a mind-map, build a table of concepts, create a list of key topics or design a flow chart. Find which method works for you.
As school progresses into higher secondary years, the more students are required to consider and discuss issues. Critical thinking is a key component of HSC exams, and participating in class discussions is an important way to strengthen this skill.
Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and summarise your opinion – yes, this will require confidence and courage, but it is the pathway to critical thinking and a great way to engage with classmates! Make a deal with yourself that you will contribute at least one comment per class discussion. Soon enough you’ll find it easy to articulate your thoughts, and the public-speaking nerves will have vanished.
Even the best of teachers can’t always communicate in exactly the way you need. If you’re struggling with a sophisticated concept, or just can’t work out a problem: ask! We all learn in different ways, at different rates.
Tailor your academic progress to your needs and speak up when you need something repeated – you might also be helping a fellow classmate in the same boat. If this is not possible, visit your teacher after class and request a recap. Your teacher is there to help you succeed; use the learning tools at your disposal and embrace questioning as the gatekeeper of great marks.
School and teachers are not the enemy. Drop your guard and you might even begin to perceive how much teachers want to assist your success. Get in the habit of treating your educators with respect, and they will return it. Advise your teacher if you don’t understand an idea and be open with them about any barriers you may experience to learning or excelling in your studies. Get in the habit of turning in work on time and requesting feedback on your marks.
Teachers love to support students who care and pretending otherwise will only hinder your own academic journey. Building valuable relationships with school and teachers is a rewarding experience and will overall improve your school tenure.
Other than teachers, the library is your best source of information and assistance during school studies. Ensure you are savvy with the library loan systems and request a walk-through from your librarian if you’re not up to date.
Ask your teacher for a reading list of additional resources and borrow these from your school collection. Read newspapers, online news articles or magazines. Read widely and read often. Find a genre that you find exciting and get stuck into a good novel. Not only will reading will boost your ability to think laterally, but it will also expand your vocabulary and improve your essay skills.