Zoom. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Here are some steps you can take, to make coexistence more bearable.

SECURITY

  1. Use randomised room IDs instead of your own personal IDs by scheduling meetings. They may be more troublesome, but they reduce the chance of random people entering your room. Try googling your Zoom personal ID. Yep, take the extra step.
  2. Use waiting rooms . Just like you don’t leave your front doors wide open, use waiting rooms to verify the identity of people, before letting them into your meeting room. You can also enable “Play a Chime” when new users enter your room. Kind of like those infrared sensors they use in some offices and stores.
  3. Ensure your students have their Names & Class displayed as their screen names. You can see it in the waiting room. You can also disable “allow participants to rename” in the room.
  4. Visual verification is the last layer of security. Everyone turns on their cameras and smile. Remember to smile, that’s the important part.
  5. Remove any intruders simply by clicking their profile and selecting the option. If only it was so simple to get rid of annoying relatives in your home.

CONDUCT

Talking to a screen might feel weird, like talking to yourself in front of an audience. But you’ll get used to it, soon it’ll be like talking to yourself in private. Here are some ways to keep your students’ attention on you.

  1. Set clear & measurable learning goals at the start. This primes students to look out for key points during the lesson. It is also highly encouraged to end sessions with a mini assessment, so that students having been able to answer it, would feel like their time has been fruitfully spent. It also provides feedback on whether more time needs be spent on the topic.
  2. Mute your students. Let them know that if they need to respond verbally, to temporarily unmute themselves, by  pressing and holding the space bar. Petition to Zoom to port this feature to real life.
  3. Encourage participation by asking students to use the chat (this function is disabled for MOE accounts). An alternative is to jot them down elsewhere and share them at an appointed time. This demonstrates that you are keen to hear them. No worries, the mute function is always there as a safety net.
  4. Awkward silences are common in video conferencing. Being muted, lag in the network, and the general unnaturalness of communicating so, all contribute to its occurrence. Don’t skirt the issue, address it, own it, joke about it. I usually like to say “Okay, any questions? Let’s wait for an awkward 10 seconds of silence for anyone who has questions”.
  5. Use non-verbal feedback to gauge the attention of your students. It’ll be less obvious through the camera, but it’ll still be there.
  6. Use the gallery view to keep tabs on your students. Live your Orwerllian fantasies by asking them to perform simple actions, a smile, a shake of the head, a little merry jig. It’ll be very evident if they are distracted and caught off guard. Typing and clicking movements during odd periods are also a tell-tale sign of malingering and mischief, as are random smiles and bursts of giggling. Remind the miscreants of your all-seeing powers. Oh, and you can also use it to monitor for “AHA moments”, to gauge learning.

PEDAGOGY

Teaching pedagogies have hardly changed in decades. Now that Home-Based Learning has forced everyone to adopt new technologies, we must adapt our teaching methods to facilitate this new reality. E-learning has to evolve pass the point of being a glorified fax machine, with teachers playing an important role. Creating, moderating, facilitating, a safe environment, situations, and experiences, where true learning can take place. Until a future where knowledge can be acquired à la Matrix style.

  1. Micro-learning methods maximise the limited time for face-to-face (f2f) interactions. The key is to reduce content download during f2f, instead using that time to increase learning personalisation. Ultimately allowing students to quickly apply what they have learnt. Resulting in cycles of short, frequent, learning bursts..
  2. Use mass-engagement methods such as polls to gauge students’ responses quickly. Students are more open to respond to polls done anonymously. You can use the results to facilitate discussions.
  3. It is even easier now for students to share answers with the class. The virtual whiteboard, screen sharing (MOE accounts have to make participants co-host to utilize this feature) coupled with annotation features, present opportunities for peer teaching. Hear their steps, methods, thought processes for solving the problem. Like they always say, “to teach is to learn twice” (and also to give teacher a break).
  4. Have a “Lucky Draw Box” for your student teaching “volunteers”. This will keep them on their toes, and the incidental squirming will provide mild entertainment. Set the expectation at the beginning of the session, let them know that you’ll be getting their involvement in the next lesson. This will encourage them to prepare for it, focus on the learning, and cut down excuses.
  5. Try Breakout Rooms. Assign teams or let Zoom randomise them. Give students problems to solve, ensuring that the problems and final deliverables are clear, and that they understand what is expected of them. You’ll also want to use the countdown feature, the doomsday-esque atmosphere, ensures students are kept on task. Students will be automatically vacated to the main room once the timer hits 0.

Be creative with the way you conduct your sessions. Experiment with the technologies and features available. The world is your oyster… And your students, guinea pigs.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

So, it has been a week since the beginning of Home-based Learning (HBL) and I am not going to lie, it feels like it has been a month. This is unchartered territory for many families having to juggle their own job responsibilities as well as their children’s learning.

Some children have eased into the process and can be left alone to focus on their work. Others may require more guidance and consistent check-ins to ensure that they are not distracted, they know what is going on in their lessons and they are on task. It is no easy feat having to now be accountable for your child’s learning on top of taking care of other priorities within your homes.

The good news is that learning from home is not a new concept and there are experienced parents who have been sharing tips and strategies to help with your child so that you can take the time to focus on your own work commitments. Here are the top 4 secrets that have been shared to help you facilitate independent learning at home to ease your load.

1. Gear them up for learning

All successful people have warm-up routines. Charles Dickens ensured he was awake at sunrise and had breakfast at 8am. Jennifer Aniston wakes up at 430am daily, has a cup of hot water with lemon, washes her face and meditates for 20 minutes. Barack Obama ensures he does strength training or cardio as soon as he gets up. These routines inform the brain and tell us that our day has started, that it is time to get to work. Curate a warm-up routine for your child;

Physically 
  • Wake up at the same time
  • Take a shower, put on your uniform, comb their hair
  • Have breakfast
  • Play an energiser with them (e.g. keep a ball in the air for as long as you can, play a hype song and jump to the beat, play thumb wars with them)

Let them feel like they are getting ready for something. You do not need special equipment to do this! Be creative, find what works for you and your children.

Mentally
  • Play a game that gets them thinking (e.g. Name nouns that begin with all the letters of the alphabet, solve a riddle together, etc.)
  • Doodle what they want to do for the day or how they are feeling
  • Listen to classical music
  • Write as many questions as they can think of in 3 minutes

Just like how athletes stretch to warm up their muscles, warm their brain up before learning begins. Try doing little things that would help them kickstart their brain activity.

Emotionally 
  • Reflect on a memory that they have had where they felt like they achieved success
  • Smiling exercise: Relax your face muscles. Slowly smile as wide as you can and feel your eyebrows move upwards. Hold the expression for 20 seconds.

Help them start their day right by achieving optimum levels of excitement. These simple things help to evoke positive emotions within them. When their mood is high and they feel great about their day, they will be more willing to take on any task in front of them – including school.

2. Prepare the workspace

All our homes are different. We do not necessarily have enough work desks for both parents and children. Apart from having a good desk space and chair, here are 2 guidelines that we can keep with us to ensure an effective workspace for our children.

Differentiation – your child’s ability to recognise the space as a space to work. It can be as simple as 
  • changing the arrangement of their table during school time and arranging it back during non-school time. 
  • Putting up pictures or images that they might see when they are in school.
  • Making a sign with them that says, “Joshua’s Learning Space”. 

Your child needs to be able to differentiate the space physically and psychologically. Supporting their understanding of the difference with these physical tweaks help to reinforce a more task-oriented behaviour. When they can separate their home space from their learning space, the transition from home behaviour to school behaviour becomes smoother.

Focus Mode – a mode that limits interruption from distraction or family members

You know how in radio stations, once they go live, they turn on a lighted sign that says, “On Air”? When anyone sees it, they know that they must be quieter and not interrupt the session. In the same way, you can create a system with your family.

  • Make your own “On Air” sign. Put your own spin on it like “learning in progress” or “studying now, I’ll call you later”
  • Set designated times when your child should not be disturbed or even when you should not be disturbed
  • Use physical cues like when you have headphones on, it means that you are focusing and should not be interrupted. 
  • Decide when they can use their phones or have a snack 

Setting agreements and boundaries like this with your family can help them recognise how their actions can affect another person as well as create mutual respect for everyone’s working time.

3. Set Micro Goals for The Day

It is a tall order to ask a child to sit still and do their work for 4 hours without any type of break. They are still figuring out their sense of time and it will feel like forever to them. Setting smaller checkpoints for them throughout their learning day can help curb questions like “what time is recess?”, “what is for lunch?”, “when can I play Roblox?”.

  • Work out their schedule of the day with them and identify break times. 
  • Share the menu for the day so they have something to look forward to. 
  • Ask them what are some things that they would want to do for the day – a walk in the park, some Netflix time, gaming time, etc. – and see how you can fit them into their day’s plan. 
  • Create a challenge for the day that they can do anytime they choose like doing something nice for your brother or smiling when you see anyone today. 

When you make this a conversation, instead of something that is dictated to them, you allow them to take responsibility for their learning and feel more invested in their day. What begins as an overwhelming 4-hour learning session becomes broken down into smaller chunks of focus time interspersed with relaxation time.

4. Plan Purposeful Breaks

Breaks are meant to refresh their minds before they enter a new cycle of concentration for another subject or task. Breaks do not necessarily have to be just lying down or phone time. A common problem children face is headaches from prolonged screen time. 

  • Use their breaks as a chance to rest their eyes by staring out into greenery or looking into the distance. 
  • Do a short physical exercise to get their blood pumping to their brains.
  •  Invite them to prepare a snack with you. 

Simply doing an alternative activity is enough to reset their focus before going in for another lesson. You can coordinate their breaks with your own work schedule or with their siblings for a quick catch-up before everyone heads back to work again. Breaks are perfect opportunities to make sure they are ready to absorb new content each time they go back to their lessons.

Most of all, TAKE IT EASY…

Give yourself a break. It has been 2 weeks. We are all still trying to find the best combination of methods and habits to help get our families through this new way of life. We want the best for our children and it can seem daunting to coordinate all these different things to support your children. That’s why focusing on little tweaks to our daily habits can help set your children up for success each day. 

At the same time, give them a break too. This circuit breaker is a transition that can be difficult for them to navigate. You may not see them become completely independent overnight but 5 extra minutes of uninterrupted time each day is still a win. Recognise that they too are trying through positive reinforcement or affirmation. “Thank you for helping to put your cup in the sink” or “Good job for finishing up you assigned tasks today!” can go a long way in helping them feel more positively towards learning and shaping them to be independent learners.

We are almost at the end of Week 2. There is still 2 weeks to go. We’re halfway there. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy.

With the pressure to do well in school or to do well at work, it is inevitable that stress sometimes creeps up on us. While pressure may not be a bad thing, stress is very unpleasant, and can have detrimental effects on your overall well-being as well. Thus, below are some practical tips on how you can combat stress when it comes your way!

  1. Eat Well

Well-balanced meals as well as eating right amounts help to ensure that your body feels good, allowing your mind to feel good as well. However, it is important to make sure that you do not overeat as well.

2. Set SMART Goals

Set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based. Planning and working smart helps you accomplish tasks more efficiently and effectively, and is a useful skill to have!

3. Take Breaks

Always ensure that you give your body and your mind time to to rest! Take out some time to spend time with friend or do something that you enjoy and relaxes you. With a refreshed state of mind, you will be able to be more productive and effective in your work as well.

4. Take an intentional pause when things get too overwhelming

Sometimes it can be hard to find the time to take a proper break, and the thought of doing so might cause us to feel even more anxious, especially when it feels like time is running out. In this case, it is important to pace yourself and manage your stress levels. However, things can sometimes get a bit too crazy without us realising it, and before we know it, we’re overwhelmed. When this happens, take a deliberate pause. Take a deep breath and count to ten before taking further action. This pause actually evokes a calming effect and can help you to rationalise your situation before proceeding with what you should or can do next.

5. Understand What Causes You To Be Stressed

There can be many underlying causes behind why people get stressed. For some, it may be self imposed expectations that they feel the need to meet, while for others it may be the fear of disappointing the people around them should they fail to accomplish certain tasks. Figure out what it is that stresses you out and what you can do to work around it!

At the end of the day, there are many contributing factors that can lead to the build up of stress and it is very easy to fall prey to it. However, there are many steps that we can take to take better care of our minds and bodies so as to thrive in the world today.

Most importantly, recognise if you need more help. If issues escalate and you feel like you are struggling to handle it by yourself, please seek professional help and talk to certified psychologists or counsellors.

Attitudes are a powerful determinant of whether you are a successful person or not.

What attitude you carry is demonstrated in your behaviour. If you choose to believe that you are capable of achieving your goals and reaching your dreams, naturally your actions would reflect that. Conversely, if you hold on to the belief that you are not good enough or that you are not worthy, you may find yourself giving up more easily and being unconvinced that there is a point in continuing to try.

Your attitude also determines your outcome. You may not be able to change you circumstances, but you are able to change your attitude on the situation. Are you going to continue moping because something bad happened, or are you going to adopt a positive attitude and choose happiness instead of prolonged grief?

An undergraduate psychology textbook defines attitude as:

“Positive or negative evaluations or beliefs held about something that in turn may affect one’s behaviour; attitudes are typically broken down into cognitive, affective and behaviour components.“

Cognitive attitudes have to do with understanding and knowledge of a certain thing or situation, affective refers to attitudes that stem your emotions and feelings while behaviour points to how you would naturally react when you come across a specific situation.

Thus, our attitudes can vary widely and can be influenced by many factors.

However, we are not passive agents in this, and have a say in what attitudes we choose to adopt in our lives.

So how do we improve our attitudes?

1. Affirm yourself

Do this multiple times a day, every day. Look at yourself in front of the mirror and tell yourself the positive attributes that you have. This serves to fuel your subconscious with positive thinking, which will in turn trigger positive feelings that will influence your actions.

2. Know what motivates you

What are some of the things that will make you take action and make change? Know them, and use them to your advantage.

3. Visualise what you want to achieve

Envisioning yourself at the place you want to be motivates you and helps to improve your attitude as you continue pressing on to reach your end goal.

4. Be intentional with your actions

Always act with a purpose and be conscious of what that purpose is. Does it value add to you and help you reach or goals? Or is it aimless and a waste of time.

5. Understand that you do not always have to be right

Life becomes a lot easier when you come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to give in sometimes. Sometimes there is no point in arguing, especially if the other party cares more about who is right rather than what is right.

6.Exercise

Besides the health benefits of exercise, it releases endorphins that help you to feel good, moving you towards a more positive and motivated frame of mind. Exercise also causes you to feel better physically. It can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude when you don’t feel your best physically.

Why not start applying these tips to your life? You don’t have to be worried about mastering all of these immediately, start small and start seeing the change in the way you face life.

References

Parkany, E., Gallagher, R., & Viveiros, P. (2004). Are attitudes important in travel choice?. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, (1894), 127-139.

Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

Having the right mindset is extremely important for success as it shapes the way that you approach and live your life.

Be it in your personal or professional spheres, the type of mindset that you have will play a part in how your life pans out.

Types of Mindsets

Generally, there are two types of mindsets that prevail, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

The difference between the two is that a growth mindset sees a challenge and thinks “Wow! An opportunity to try and learn something new!” whereas a fixed mindset on the other hand thinks “I’ve tried and failed before, nothing is going to change…”

Whichever one of these two mindsets that we carry then influences our behaviour and how we interact with and perceive the successes and failures in our lives.

Obviously the ideal is to have a growth mindset, which is essentially believing that you have the capacity to grow.

Research by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck found that the growth mindset “creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.”

An individual with a growth mindset is not afraid to take on challenges, and sees failure as a window to grow and expand on their existing abilities, rather than as a signifier of their incompetency.

With a fixed mindset, people are likely to be afraid to fail, as they would see it as exposing their weaknesses and inadequacies. In turn, this can lead to them being afraid to try new out new things as well, as they remain stagnant in those areas.

Research by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck found that the growth mindset “creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval.”

This affects the level of satisfaction and happiness that you would feel as well.

Challenges are inevitable, and will surface in all areas of our life, be it school, work, or even in our personal lives. So how then would you want to approach them? Do you want to work towards growing and making it better for yourself, or are you just going to settle for how things are.

Ultimately, those with a growth mindset are likely to reach higher levels of achievement while those with a fixed mindset may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.

Growth Mindset in Practice

So how then do you develop a growth mindset?

1. Embrace failures and imperfections
Instead of being ashamed of them, allow yourself to acknowledge and accept them. Learn from your mistakes and try again

2. Try a different method
What worked in the past may not always work again. What worked for someone else may not work for you. Don’t be afraid to switch things up and try another method.

3. Alter your perspective
Indeed challenges can be tough, however, it is important to see them as opportunities for self-improvement. Yes, it can be tough trying to overcome a certain thing, but when it’s done, you’ll come out of it stronger and having learnt something new.

4. Value the journey over the end product
Enjoy the learning process and actually learn! Don’t just focus on trying to get to the end, but be present throughout the journey.

5. Emphasise learning well over learning fast
Sometimes we just want to get things over and done with. However, we are robbing ourselves of the knowledge that could have been gained in the process. Learn well, and sometimes that means allowing yourself to make mistakes as well.

Implement these practices into your life and take ownership of your mindset.

Whenever we think about who we are and what defines us, we generally drift towards ideas about personalities and the combination of different characteristics and qualities that form ours.

 

Personality types have actually been quite a hot topic as of late, with many people taking personality tests to try and figure out which personality category they fall under.

 

One test commonly used is the DISC behavior assessment tool, used to analyse why different people behave differently.

 

It is based on the DISC theory by psychologist William Moulton Marston. The assessment tool centres on four main personality traits: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Conscientiousness (C).

 

With DISC, we are able to better predict our behavior in terms of how we live our lives and how we deal with others. Understanding what motivates you, what causes you stress and how you solve problems, will come in very useful especially as you work with people in the future and can help to improve your working relations.

 

For example, you might realize through DISC that you are a more task-oriented person, thus you might find it difficult to work with people who are more people-oriented and will need to make adjustments in order to improve working relations. With a better understanding of ourselves, we will also be better able to tap on our strengths and work on our weaknesses.

 

Definitely who we are cannot be wholly encapsulated by one personality type. We are all made up of a blend of personality types, where we range higher on some scales and lower on others. We look at our more dominant ones to understand ourselves better and the blends typically come in the form of D/I, S/C, I/S or D/C.

 

Take a look at the table below for a breakdown of the the different DISC personality types!

Personality type Behaviour Strengths Weaknesses What they want from their role How to improve
High D –  Dominance Determined

 

Opinionated

Direct

 

Egocentric

 

Decisive

 

Demanding

 

 

Problem solver

 

Visionary

 

Independent

 

Self-sufficient

 

Thrives in crises

 

Strong willed

Tendency to be overbearing

 

Rash in making decisions

 

Impatient with poor performance

 

Not very encouraging

Power and authority

 

Prestige

 

Challenge

Be strong willed is good because you won’t give up even when things get tough. However, it is important to know where the boundaries are and when you need to submit to authority. You may not always be right.
High I –

Influence

Can be emotional

 

Persuasive

 

Talks more than listens

 

Animated

 

Outgoing

 

Enthusiastic

Friendly

 

Interest in people

 

Convincing

 

Charismatic

 

Life of the party

More concerned with popularity than tangible results

 

Poor with detail

 

Short attention Span

 

Disorganised

 

More talk than action

 

Makes decisions based on emotions

Visible recognition

 

Approval

 

Popularity

Important to recognize that you thrive when attention is given to you and your ideas are heard, and to bank on that. You work well under pressure and are able to use your influence for good and the betterment of the situation. However it is also important to know that when people are not receptive of your ideas, it doesn’t have to do with who you are as a person. Rejection of your ideas do not equate to rejection of you as a person.
High S –

Steadiness

Stable and steady

 

Consultative

 

Patient

 

Dislike change

 

Reserved

 

Sympathetic

Good listener

 

Compassionate

 

Understanding

 

Patient

 

Predictable

Resists change

 

Holds grudges

 

Spectator

 

Too laid back

 

Indecisive

 

Not goal-oriented

 

Difficulty in establishing priorities

Standardization

 

Security

 

Calm environments

 

Status quo

Do not fear change and conflict. Change and conflict can be scary, but may be necessary.

 

Don’t be afraid to fight for what you want (as long as it isn’t illegal or won’t lead to a physical fight).

 

Change can also be good sometimes. After all, growth occurs outside of your comfort zone.

High C -Conscientiousness Adhere strongly to rules

 

Structured

 

Logical

 

Careful

 

Cautious

 

Diplomatic

 

Proper

 

Hardworking

Competent

 

Analytical

 

Precise

 

Self-disciplined

 

Loyal

Meticulous to a fault

 

Rigid

 

Critical

 

Legalistic

 

Not expressive

 

Unforgiving

Clear expectations

 

Autonomy

 

Recognition of expertise

 

Professionalism

Don’t be afraid of criticism, and instead, embrace it and grow. There isn’t a need to take everything so seriously, sometimes it’s okay to just relax.

 

Learning is something that happens everyday of our lives. Most of us associate learning with formal education like English, Math, Science, and whatever other subjects that we are made to take in school. However, learning can take place through experiences as well, especially so for things like life skills, which may not be as effectively learnt by going through a lecture.

Life skills that we learn in our everyday lives can include things like learning how to become a better communicator, learning to become a better leader, learning how to better manage expectations etc. In a school context, these skills are developed as we interact with our teachers and peers, and as we are forced to put them into practice when we engage in things like group projects, or take on leadership positions.

Life skills are essential not only in a professional context, but can be applied in every area of our lives as well. Besides being useful for things like impressing potential employers at interviews, life skills are useful as well for situations like if you get into a disagreement with your friend and need to sort the matters out.

According to educational theorist David Kolb, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” Learning through experiences actively involves the learner in a tangible experience that allows them to make meaning of whatever they go through, and therefore learn more effectively.

Following Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model, there are four key processes that we go through as we learn through experiences.

  1. Concrete Experience (Doing it)
  2. Reflective Observation
    • Learning is best facilitated by a process that draws out the individuals beliefs and ideas about a topic so that they can be examined, tested and integrated with new, more refined ideas
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation
    • analyse, make sense of what happened, moving back and forth between different ideas, actions, feelings and thinking, adapting
    •  assimilating the new experiences into existing concepts and accommodating existing concepts to new experiences
  4. Active Experimentation (Application)
    • must be capable of using the new ideas gained from the experience which helps you gain better understanding of the new knowledge and therefore retain the information better

Many a times we attend workshops and take down notes, believing that we have committed the new knowledge learnt to memory. It is quite likely that we probably will not remember the information in the long run, and that we will not go back and refer to the notes we have taken down either. However, if we learn through experience, the way the memory of what was learnt through that experience will be stored in our minds differently.

Imagine trying to understand the concept of resilience by reading about it, in comparison to having to physically experience a challenge and having to push yourself to get past it.

Which is more likely to help you learn better? Learning how to be a better speaker by taking down pointers from a powerpoint slide or spending time with someone who speaks to large crowds regularly?

The range of emotions and feelings that we go through as we learn from the experience is crucial, improving the likelihood of experiential learning occurring as we make meaning of our experiences.

However, it is important to note that individuals will have to go through all four key processes in order for the experiential learning to be effective, as Kolb “views learning as an integrated process with each stage being mutually supportive of and feeding into the next,” with the stages not being effective on their own.

 

The idea of tests and examinations can be daunting and is oftentimes a source of dread and fear for many students. However, these can be avoided with adequate preparation. Studying is inevitable in order to do well academically, as such, it is also ideal that we fully maximise the time that we do spend studying. Below are some useful study habits that can aid you in studying more effectively.

  1. Timetabling

Create a timetable that details the outline of your week, and ensure that you allocate blocks of time to every subject that you take. This is to ensure that none of your subjects are neglected, and that a sufficient amount of time is spent on them per week. Do remember to consider the time you may take to travel from place to place, and to also include time for meals and breaks. Your timetable should be one that is practical and sustainable, meaning that it is one that you can keep up with in the long run.

It will also be useful to be specific about which topics should be covered each week leading up to your examinations. Thus, what topics to cover each week should be planned in advance as well, so as to ensure that all the content that will be tested can be covered before the examination itself.

       2.Scaffolding

Scaffolding refers to a structure, which basically means having a an outline of the learning objectives for each chapter or topic. These are usually provided by teachers or are written at the start of each chapter in textbooks. However, if you are unsure, do ask your teachers! These are basically the essential concepts or formulas that you must know for your examinations.

These brief outlines need not be so detailed as you will cover them later on when during your revision. Essentially, the outlines act as a sort of checklist to ensure that you know and understand the key concepts that are being taught in each chapter.

      3.Note-taking

Taking notes can help you take in and remember material better. Taking notes as your teacher goes through content in class helps you actively pay attention, as well as interact with whatever is being taught. Later on, as you go back and revise the lesson, you can always add on to your notes with whatever you have missed out from the textbooks or handouts that your teacher may have given. Research has actually shown that the number of notes taken is actually related to how much information is retained (Nye, Crookes, Powley & Tripp, 1984).

So, take notes! It is bound to come in useful, especially for subjects that may be more content heavy. It is also important to remember properly organise your notes so that you can easily locate whatever information you need as your prepare for your examinations later on.

Some examples of note-taking strategies that have been widely adopted include the outline method, the cornell method etc. Notes can come in the form of mindmaps as well. Each note-taking style has its pros and cons, with some preferring one over the other. Do your research and don’t be afraid to try out the different styles before figuring out which one works best for you. Some people don’t even stick to only one style, and use different strategies depending on the subject being studied.

      4. Collaborative studying

Studying in groups builds a positive environment for information exchange, and gives you the opportunity to build on each others views and ideas as well. Besides expanding your access to information, you enhance your own understanding of the topic when you teach it to your friends as well. As you review the content over and over, you will definitely be able to remember it better.

Studying with friends also helps to keep you accountable as you wouldn’t want to be a distraction to them. You can help keep each other in check to make sure that you guys are on track and spur each other on to a greater success.

However, this method may not be effective for everybody. For some, studying alone may be a better option as group study sessions may quickly turn into chit chat sessions. So know the environment in which is the most conducive for you, whether it is studying with friends, or studying solo.

      5. Make use of resources available

Lastly, make use of resources available. As in the point mentioned above, ask your friends when you need help. If you don’t understand something, don’t simply sweep it under the carpet. You have your peers, your teachers, the internet. Make use of them and don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Ultimately, all of you are there to learn and do well for your examinations. That wasted mark will not be worth it. Make use of what you have and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 

References

Nye, P., Crooks, T., Powley, M., & Tripp, G. (1984). Student Note-Taking Related to University Examination Performance. Higher Education, 13(1), 85-97. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3446680

According to an educational model by psychologist Benjamin Bloom, being more aware of, and understanding how we think plays an important role in how we absorb information while studying.

This has been adapted into the One Hour Study Cycle that can aid students in learning more effectively, and committing knowledge gained into their long-term memory.

5 Minutes – Plan Your Study Session

You’re just warming up, so take some time to take a look at the headings of what you will be covering and get a general idea, without having to commit the details to memory yet.

35 Minutes – Commit to Memory

Read the information and take time to understand the concepts. Also, take notes! One tip would be to take down notes using your own words to help you remember the information better. Note taking can even come in the form of visual aids like graphs, mind maps, pie chart etc. Basically, organize and simplify the content that you learn in a way that you best understand it. Translating content into your own words and concepts is useful in helping to retain information.

Lastly, remember to take down questions that you may have. Note down parts that you may be unsure of so that you can ask your friends or your teachers later on. Simply telling yourself that you’ll keep it in mind to ask later is not enough, and it’s highly likely that you’ll forget. So, in order to prevent that from happening, write it down!

10 Minutes – Test Yourself!

Now it’s time to assess how much you’ve learnt! One question to ask yourself, can you teach whatever you have just covered to someone else? Make use of active recall in order to test yourself. Close your book and do your best to recite whatever you just covered without referring. Then go back again and check to see what you’ve missed out and try to recite the content again without referring. This helps to better retain the information in your long-term memory.

You can also take a bit of this time to assess your study methods. Was the way you studied effective in helping you better understand and remember content? Are you going to do the same thing in your next study session? Or should you try something else?

10 Minutes – Break!

Finally, give yourself a break! Allow your brain to take a breather and relax. This would be a good time to walk around, get a snack, maybe reply a few text messages. However, do this for 10 minutes only! After this break, your mind will be refreshed and you’ll be ready for another hour of learning!

 

 

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines life skills as “abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demand and challenges of everyday life.” The existing skills mainly fall under four cross-cultural categories:

• Collaboration and teamwork
• Creativity and imagination
• Critical thinking
• Problem-solving

With the world rapidly changing, hard skills can easily become irrelevant as the economy evolves. However, life skills, on the other hand, are not as tangible but are highly beneficial and necessary to help one succeed in life. This success comes in the form of:

Becoming more employable

A study in 2016 revealed that 93% of the 274 employers surveyed indicated that life skills or soft skills are “essential” and “important” factors that influence the prospects of the candidates being hired. Interviewers are not only looking out for excellent academic qualifications, but things like effective communication and collaboration as well. These, and other life skills play a significant role in affecting their judgement of candidates as potential employees.

In another study by Harvard Professor David Deming, it has been highlighted that professions requiring high levels of social interaction in the labour market are growing vastly. This indicates that the demand for employees who have well-developed life skills is on the rise, and will continue to do so in the upcoming years as well. This means that the upcoming workforce would definitely have to have well-developed life skills in order to be considered for these positions, which will be dominating the economy.

Good character development

Going beyond impressing future employers, life skills are foundational in equipping students with tools for personal development, like making friends in school or making decisions for themselves, especially in times where there aren’t people around to guide them.

Other studies have also shown that life skills education has led to an improvement in self-esteem and rise in self-confidence among students, due to the emphasis that life skills place on positive social interactions with others.

Becoming more adaptable

Life skills empower our students to be more flexible. As the world constantly evolves, it is useful for students to be able to think critically and be ready to take on challenges, and also, make full use of opportunities when they arise.

It is imperative that students are prepared with life skills that help them in approaching and facing problems as well as difficult situations that they will encounter in today’s world.

Life skills appear to be valuable qualities to have in all aspects of life, be it in your child’s education, work or even social journey. Thus, it is never too early to start working on developing and honing these skills that will surely come in handy.

What are some life skills that think are important, and how would you work on developing them?