Four quick tips to ensure you have a successful academic year

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You have just had several weeks off and have, God-willing, recharged your batteries with a well-deserved rest. The day many students dread is fast approaching and you don’t know where the past few weeks have gone. Unfortunately, when we are in the summer holidays we pick up bad habits such as becoming nocturnal, being lazy and not doing anything productive since we are in relaxation mode. As the new academic year begins, here are a few tips, from the point of view of a teacher, to ensure the next year is successful for you as a pupil.

1. Re-calibrate Yourself

It can be a shock to the system to all of a sudden go back to the routine of school/college/university straight away without being prepared for it. To get over this, it is important to get back into the routine a few days before term begins. It is tempting to squeeze the last second of extra sleep you can get before term starts. Instead, be disciplined and start getting your body used to the routine of waking up early and sleeping at an appropriate time before the day you return. This will mean your body and mind will be ready for the first day and you won’t need an adjustment period, which can affect your academic performance. This is a very hard thing to do but if you are disciplined, it will be something you will not regret. I personally go the extra mile and wake up early every morning during the holidays (apart from once a week where I give myself a I lie-in) so that I don’t develop bad sleeping habits before I return to work.

2. Be Prepared

One of the worst times to come across as unorganised is at the start of the year because there are no excuses – you have had the whole summer to sort this out. As a teacher, the start of the academic year is the peak time to witness organised pupils; new shirts and trousers that have just come out of the packaging, polished shoes, tidy haircuts and, most importantly, a full set of stationary in pencil-cases – it is all downhill from here! Ensure you have purchased the correct things you need for the next academic year as this will make the start of your term easier. An organised pupil will be a reflection of the work they produce. This is speaking from experience – the most organised pupils I teach are usually the ones who produce the best work and are the highest achieving.

3. Start Well

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One of the worst things you can do is make a poor start. This is especially the case for those starting the next phase of education (be it secondary school, GCSEs, A-Levels or a Degree). Every jump is difficult and you must get off to a good start. This means listening to your teachers and giving them a good first impression (this means a lot), attending lessons, completing all work and taking everything seriously. Some pupils have a tendency not to work hard throughout the year and only do so when exams approach. This is not optimal and the only way to remedy this is to start well so that you do not create a negative domino effect. Those who start well will have a less stressful year than those that start badly. As well as with your work, this is a fresh start for you with your fellow pupils and teachers too. If you held any grudges or had disagreements before, forget them and start again.

4. Learn From The Past

“Sir, I know what to do now. I am going take my education more seriously and work hard.” This is the most important tip of all and is a lesson that is often learnt the hard way. Those of you who received exam results in the summer should recall the feeling you had when you saw what was in your envelope. If it was regret and disappointment, that means you should think about what you did in order to get those disappointing results and ensure you do not repeat them again. If your exam results were a success, think about what you did well to get those results and ensure you repeat those good habits. One of the worst feelings one can have is regret and to think ‘I wish I had done more’. Make sure this phrase does not have an opportunity to enter your thoughts ever again. This can be done by giving your all so that you can walk away thinking you did your best, no matter what the outcome. The most painful part of my job is seeing people not achieve what they are capable of due to a lack of effort from their part. On the flip-side, the best part of my job is seeing my pupils work hard and getting their rewards for it. Every single moment should be a learning experience, both within and outside of the sphere of education.

I pray for all students of all ages to have a very successful year and future.