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“I’ve failed over and over and over again. And that is why I succeed.”

15 October 2015

Michael Jordan’s quote demonstrates that failure can actually teach us a lot about ourselves and how we can use setbacks to help us become successful.  Michael Jordan was arguably one of the best basketball players of all time, but his success was no accident.  

He missed lots of shots, but learnt from this and continued until he missed less and less.  He did this under the pressure of a match situation, but through practice and persistence under these circumstances, he developed resilience and success.

We’ve likened our students to academic athletes and I hope that the story above of Michael Jordan provides them with a dogged determination to succeed.  This term requires persistence as our students in Years 11 and 13 are required to meet coursework deadlines in their subjects and to revise for mock exams; which begin in the last week of November.  It’s important to start to plan for them now and parental support in helping in this process is vital.  Many parents at the Year 11 Student-Parent-Teacher-Conference have asked about the best ways to help our children in this situation. 

Revision means ‘to look at again’. Students need to review as part of their learning, as well as in preparation for exams. But they need active ways to do this ‘looking again’. Revision also gives time for reflection and new learning. Our children can start to see the big picture and can add in more details and examples. They can begin to apply knowledge to different contexts and use techniques such as Point-Evidence-Explain to develop written points and deepen understanding.  They may discover something they still don’t understand and this is an opportunity to ask teachers about it again.  We advise students to find a quiet place to revise at home, to avoid playing music and to (dare I say it) switch off social media, which can be hugely distracting.

The key is change, challenge and treat.  Your child can start by creating a revision timetable.  Topics should then take between 25 and 45 minutes to revise. There are many activities that can be completed to aid revision; making mind maps, rewriting notes, creating timelines, diagrams, outline cards, mnemonics, mp4 files and labelled drawings.  Changing between these activities refreshes the process.  Challenge comes through testing themselves using past question papers, being questioned by parents or friends and using Apps on iPads. These are all different ways of checking knowledge and understanding. Treats come at the end and this is where parents can also help! This can be through encouraging your son or daughter to take a break and properly relax, whether through exercise or spending time together, to try to help them to avoid over-anxiety. Eating properly and not snacking on sugary treats and treats will keep them alert.

This is where we can all learn from Michael Jordan – without doubt mistakes will be made, but with determination and by learning from those mistakes during the revision process, we can help our children to be successful when taking their examinations next April and May. We call them ‘mock’ exams in November, but the reality is that they need to be taken very seriously.

All Year 11 and 13 students at the school are reflecting on their first tracker grades and setting themselves specific targets on ways to progress further and how to revise. They’re supported by form tutors and subject teachers and I encourage all of them to seek out support from friends, parents and staff alike as they practice and prepare for exams over the next month.

Andrew Lancaster, Head of Secondary

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