You know who they are. The Smart Kid in class. The one who says that they don’t study and yet they’re coming out of the exam with a 90.
They’re not quite the show-off. Their hand isn’t always waving around in the air to answer every question.
Yes, they’re the one who asks you to pipe down when you’re laughing about a meme with a friend, and the one who sits next to someone who isn’t usually their friend, except when it comes to study group.
Then, they study for a bit after school but they still have time for tennis and two episodes of Community before it reaches 9pm.
Yep, that Smart Kid.
What’s the difference? It’s their classroom habits.
You may not have noticed, but it’s the things they do in class which elevates them from a good student to a great one.
Building excellent classroom habits is the foundation stone of a great HSC.
So what are classroom habits?
‘Classroom habits’ is an all encompassing term, for the things you get up to in class! Everything from when you turn up to class, and where you sit, all the way up to how you actually take notes in class, and how you ask questions.
All the decisions you’ve been making on the tiniest little details can have a significant impact on your ability to learn new concepts.
Why are they so important?
Having good classroom habits makes the entire learning process smoother.
That means you’ll be up to speed in class, and the classroom becomes an opportunity to extend your knowledge, rather than catching up! If you’re up to date in class it also reduces your need to study and is a huge boon to your overall efficiency.
You probably see memes all over social media about the Lazy College Student skipping class…
And there’s the old adage, ‘P’s (pass marks) make Degrees’. Truth is that those who believe in simply getting the P’s are wasting not only their time, but also their money by failing to undertake the most effective of all the classroom habits: actually turning up.
The difference between you and Lazy College Student is that you have to turn up. By law. But what do you do once you’ve turned up? Let us help!
Important Classroom Habits to Think About
If it seems like there’s a lot to good classroom habits, but there really isn’t – there are five things you’ll need to do!
1. Active Listening – Are you listening?
This is perhaps the most obvious of all! Are you paying attention in class? I mean really paying attention. How often have you been sitting in a classroom, and everything goes in one ear and straight out the other! Just listening to the words your teacher is saying isn’t enough, you need to be actively paying attention! One of the great lecturer’s I had once said, “If I drop dead you should be able to finish my sentences”.
How can you do active listening?
- Note-taking – Taking notes by hand whilst listening to content helps to reinforce that the messages sent have been received and understood.
- Questioning – Asking questions allows you to make connections between different concepts to build upon or clarify what has been discussed, ‘What were the causes of X?’
- Reflection – Reflection is closely repeating or paraphrasing what the speaker has said in order to show comprehension. This is usually done during questioning, ‘If X, Y and Z resulted in B, then what if X hadn’t occurred?’
- Clarification – Clarification usually involves the use of open questions which enables the speaker to expand on certain points as necessary, ‘Was B a factor in C?’
- Summarisation – Summarising involves taking the main points of the received message and reiterating them in a logical and clear way, giving the speaker chance to correct if necessary.
So don’t do things like homework in class, if you’re focusing on homework, you’re definitely not focusing on the lesson! If you truly understand what’s going on, you shouldn’t just know whats being spoken about right now, you should know where the lesson is going!
But that moment you start to lose track, what should you do?
2. Ask the Right Questions
That’s right! Ask a question.
The moment you’re confused, you need to be preparing to ask a question. Don’t worry about what other people think! If you’re confused there is a 99% chance someone else has the same question and is too scared to ask! You won’t just be helping yourself, you’ll be helping everyone.
Don’t leave that question festering in your mind. That piece of information you’re missing might be relevant to the rest of the lesson, so it might leave you confused for the entirety of the lesson, which is the worst thing you can do. It can also ruin the flow of the lesson if you ask a question about something from way earlier in the lesson.
It’s best to ask the question while you’re still talking about it!
3. Take Notes
You should NOT be trying to furiously write down every single thing your teacher say.
Reading a huge pile of notes, is going to be boring, you’ll just end up not reading them!
If you just write down the key points, it will save your hand from cramping, and your notes will actually be easier to read, and hence more useful! If you’re writing less it also means you’ll be listening more, which is the point! Mindlessly writing everything is the easiest way to miss everything your teacher is saying.
Think about how you’re writing down the information, consider using mind maps, and flow charts as a tool to keep all the information your teacher is giving you. They’re great for summarising lots of ideas in a single page. It helps to know your learning type.
What’s your learning type? Knowing will save you time and you’ll remember!
Also try focusing on examples. Examples make the best notes, you can always read the textbook again for notes that are really clear. But what you really want to know is how to answer questions, or what the point of what you’re learning is. That’s what examples are made for!
4. Finding a Quiet Space
Most friendships are developed on some sort of conversation. But like everything, there’s a time and a place.
Finally, you should consider sitting next to someone you don’t normally sit next to! Sitting next to your friends is the easiest way to get distracted from the lesson. Your goal should be to reduce gossip during the lesson. Sitting next to someone new is the easiest way. Simply promising not to talk to your friend too much during the lesson, is a fools errand.
It’s also a great way to meet new people. If you find yourself getting along too well, perhaps you’ll need to move again, but hey at least you’ve made a new friend!
Put it into Action!
Hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of yourself in class! Remember it’s never too late to make a change!
Have a Question?
Vamsi Srinivasan is looking to uncover the next hidden truth of the universe. He was fascinated by the beauty of Physics and Mathematics during his HSC. Now, he’s in his third year of a dual degree in Physics/Computer Science. Vamsi wanted to share his passion for Maths and Physics and has been an Art of Smart coach for the past 3 years. He coaches students in Physics as well as all ranges of HSC Maths from General to Extension 2. In his spare time you can find him watching Tennis or listening to his favourite podcast ‘Hello Internet’.