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Doing better this year

September 15, 2018

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Each new academic year is not just a whole new class, but also a chance for a new beginning and new ways to go about school and studies. Now that it’s been almost a month since you all restarted school in August, the initial back-to-school excitement and anxiety would have subsided. You must be settled into your new routine.

And now is the best time to reflect upon the past successes and the future. Yes, this is a great time to reflect with a bigger perspective before being caught up in the daily school routine. At the beginning of the school year, there’s an energy that’s hard to match. Use that energy to move you in the right direction for a better year ahead and the future.

Reflect

Reflect on what you did last year and how you want this year to be better or different. What did you do last year and what was its outcome? Were you satisfied with it? If yes, then what more can you do to improve your performance and if no, then what do you need to do differently to reach your desired outcome.

Reflect on where you are right now and how can you create the ideal, or better, learning environment this year. These are tough questions and maybe too deep for you to tackle by yourself, so you can take the help of your parents, teachers, elder sibling or mentors. They know you well and they also have more experience and better knowledge to guide you.

You can even write down your thoughts, both about what you did in the last class and what you want to do now. Writing them down will only make them clearer and more real for you.

Redefine

You must have also planned in the past and must have worked on the plans in your previous classes. The plans would have worked sometimes and some would have been forgotten or abandoned. While it is mostly true that we must forget the past as it’s gone, in some cases it helps to remember the lessons it taught.

Therefore define new goals and redefine previous ones in the light of the lessons learnt. Write down these goals on a sheet and place it somewhere — like above your study table — to keep looking at this goals sheet throughout the year to reinforce your commitment to your goals.

Do some research

Don’t just go to school, sit in the class, come back and do your homework and get ready for another day at school. Don’t just leave it on the teachers to teach you all what you need to learn this year.

Take up some responsibility in your hands. Find out the syllabus for the term, if not the year. Do some independent research on some of the topics, this will help you be well-prepared in the class when the teacher teaches.

Get to know the teachers and ask seniors for tips on dealing with different subjects and assignments. I know this may seem like too much work, but being prepared and well-aware of what is in store will make studies and your life at school easier. You don’t want to get to the end of the year and wish you have done things differently had you know better what was required of you … find out what is required before it is due.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Bond better

You are not just a product of your own personality and efforts, but also those of your friends. If you have hardworking, studious and honest friends, you will soon emulate them and follow the path they are on.

And if your friends are the non-serious, fun-loving or the rowdy kind who would rather do anything but study, you will surely pick up their bad habits and become distracted from studies.

I am sure your parents also tell you to keep good company, and the wise ones in all ages have said the same. There is truth in the proverb “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas,” so don’t be with people whose bad influence can rub off on you. Deep in our hearts, we all know what is right and what is wrong, and when your friends indulge in something that is not right, you know you should not be doing it too.

Step away from friends and company which you think didn’t work well for you last year. This also involves disengaging yourself from friends and activities online, in the virtual world, which are wasting your time and distracting you from studies. If someone or something drags you down and distracts you, it is not for you.

Accept failures

We all want only good things in life, but life can have other plans. Accept the setbacks you may have, such as poor marks in a class test, a silly tiff with a friend, a scolding from a teacher, or falling sick and missing school for days.

Don’t let these things shake your confidence or your enthusiasm at school. Learn from failure and accept mistakes — they are as important in your growth and progress, as a person and student, as your success and achievements are.

There is a lesson to be learnt from everything. And in doing this you will also have to say sorry and make up for your mistakes in different ways, don’t feel embarrassed in doing so, no matter how hard it may seem. You will feel better after saying sorry to the teacher if you have misbehaved in the class or forgotten to do your homework, and it will show your sincerity to the teacher too.

Look up the library

Yes, there is a place known as library in school and most of you have been ignoring it or just going there to sit and chat with friends. If you look around, there are books in it. Maybe you didn’t notice it last year, but do so now. You will find not only books on countless topics and stories of all genres, but also many magazines that are less time-consuming, though equally interesting and informative, to read.

Do become a reader, especially if you were not one last year. Reading books is the best thing your can do with your time, this year and in all the years to come. Read anything that you like, it doesn’t have to be something related to your studies. In fact, leisure reading is an excellent way to improve your mind, knowledge, perception and personality.

These are just few of the things that will keep you on track in school, but there is much more you can do and you know it better than anyone else.

Don’t ignore a problem

If you get stuck at something or encounter a problem, don’t run away or turn the other way because it will not go away until you face it and solve it.

Turn to your teachers and parents whenever you find yourself having any issue. Don’t be afraid of scoldings or be thought of as a fool or laughed at for asking a silly question. Solving a problem or getting out of trouble should be your prime objective and this is often possible with the help of others who are in a position to help and who care about you.

So make smart moves and choices, and have a fabulous school year.

Published in Dawn, Young World, September 15th, 2018