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Supporting Our Students

07 September 2017

The first term is well under way now and our students are settling into their routines and habits with respect to their learning opportunities. The thing about habits is that they are often inadvertently or easily formed and can be difficult to change – we talk about ‘good habits’ and ‘bad habits’.

  • Secondary

In the American Journal of Psychology (1903) a habit is defined in this way: "A habit, from the standpoint of psychology, is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience." ... The process by which new behaviours become automatic is habit formation.  Here at BISS, we want our students to get into some very good habits that will help them to be successful at school and beyond; to keep asking questions and remain curious, to enjoy a love of learning, and to be compassionate, caring members of the community.

To help to develop good habits at the beginning of the academic year, we’ve held a number of Information Evenings on ways in which our children can be encouraged to develop good study habits throughout each Key Stage.  We tailored them to be age appropriate, since Year 7 pupils, for instance, might require far more support in organising their time around homework, given their recent transition from the primary school.  It was very useful to hear from students themselves and listen to their own thoughts on how to be successful.  Thank you to them and congratulations on some excellent and entertaining presentations.  There was a real focus on how to create and sustain good habits and be successful academically, whilst at the same time plenty of information and tips on how we can ensure that pupils develop resilience, enjoy their time at school and stay healthy.

If you didn’t manage to make the information events, I’ve outlined a few of the suggestions that came from both pupils and staff below:

  1. Organise your locker, your school bag and your study space at home.
  2. Use your planner.
  3. Familiarise yourself fully with Moodle.
  4. Check your ODIN every day.
  5. Contact your classmates in the first instance to discuss homework if you get stuck.
  6. Your teacher can also help you – use Showbie for reflections and discussions in Maths.
  7. There are plenty of other Apps that can support  learning  – e.g. Class Timetable, Pages, Keynotes, Garageband, Numbers, Quizlet and iMovie.
  8. Take part in ECAs – for example the school production – (this year we will have ‘Pluft’ and ‘Bugsy Malone’).  There are also plenty of sporting ECAs that can ensure balance from your academic commitments.
  9. Participate in competitions and other events – e.g. FOBISIA Sports and Music Festivals, the Tanzania expedition, photography and writing challenges.
  10. Support the BISS community charities – The Giving Tree, River of Hearts or the Huaxin Rehabilitation Centre.
  11. Practise past papers regularly and use mark schemes to ensure a full understanding of exactly what the exam requirements demand.
  12. Plan your time effectively – use a calendar to plan revision activities.
  13. Be creative in making revision cards, notes, mind maps and questions about topics.
  14. Don’t leave topics or concepts misunderstood – talk to your friends and teachers to ensure you understand them.
  15. Plan in relaxation time carefully, whether that is meeting up with friends or talking to your family!
  16. Avoid distractions in terms of music and electronic devices when studying.
  17. If you feel the pressure building up then talk to your Form Tutor or Year Leader.

I hope that you find these tips useful for your own child.  I am a great believer in the need for us all to work together to ensure success for all of the children at the school.  So as parents, we can also help.  We encourage parents to encourage a growth mind-set, to talk to your children everyday about what they’ve been learning at BISS (ODIN helps with this), to check through planners with them, encourage routines and provide a quiet working environment at home.

I’d particularly encourage students to take part in sporting ECAs where possible, as exercising is commonly referred to as a keystone habit.  This means that it is in some ways more important than other habits — as keystone habits have the power to transform your life.  This is because they are correlated with other good habits.  There are many sporting opportunities available at the school, indeed it is one of our ‘pillars’ and we greatly encourage pupils to participate at many different levels.

Whichever strategies our children adopt to develop their own good habits, our role either as teachers or parents is to support, praise and intervene to help them to maintain a positive approach to learning and new experiences.

Andrew Lancaster, Head of Secondary