Dealing with Motivation Issues – ‘I Don’t Know Where to Start’
Students, if you are struggling for motivation at home right now, put a half day’s timetable in place tonight and try it tomorrow. Time will fly, with each revision block being only thirty minutes. As you begin to see progress, your motivation will grow. An alternative approach to developing a timetable would be to create a task list. Each night you could write down a list of ten to twelve challenges you would like to achieve in various subjects the next day. Tick them off then as you get them completed. If you currently feel you are swamped with work and worry, this is your ‘get out of jail’ card. It is so important to set targets, otherwise timetables and lists are just ‘drive by’ and ‘hopeful’ preparations that you will never be answerable to. We all need targets to help us achieve things and it is also a fact that we are more likely to reach them if they are written down.
Once you set a measurable target (example: eight pages from a textbook to be summarised into your own words), assess how much progress you have made. On completion, tick it off the sub-topic list on your A3/A2 subject summary sheet. A short term target could be as simple as ‘understanding emotions’ from two English poems or practicing writing letters to an imaginary pen pal in whatever modern foreign language you study. Remember if you don’t know where to start, commence with the basics of a topic. i.e. view the first few chapters of your textbook or the first set of notes your teacher gave you on it. Start small and then when you get up and running and notice progress, you will be encouraged by your own efforts. Just get a routine going somehow, and then rinse and repeat.
Write out a List of Motivations in Your Journal
Another tip to improve motivation is to write out a list of targets in your Journal and then write ten reasons underneath explaining your motivation to ACE them. On lazy days, open that page and read your ‘motivational list’, thinking about how you felt when you wrote them. This will inspire you to get started or keep going. Revising and preparing may seem like it is solely for your upcoming exam, but you will discover that learning is a lifelong process. Try to enjoy the challenge of getting that timetable completed or ticking off those tasks; you have nothing to lose and all to gain. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just give it your all.
For those of you who continue to struggle to get started on revision, start by writing down the activities you lean towards to dodge study. Put this list on your wall and be fully aware of the times you drift towards them. Being aware of this list will remind of what you really should be putting your mind to at that given moment. Any effort or movement towards starting a short revision block should motivate you to commence a second one i.e. The hardest part of being successful with any task is often just getting it started. Imagine yourself, on your side, rolling down a steep hill. You will gain momentum as you go.
The Many and Best Ways to Learn
The key to any successful Lifestyle (Study) Timetable is keeping your brain fresh by completing different tasks every thirty minutes. Rotate your learning between different subjects but also within subjects. What I mean by this is: Revise in all the different ways possible. You only need five or six ways that work for you but won’t know which ones suit until you actually road test them yourself. The below is a sample list of the many ways we learn. I am sure you could add even more creative and interesting methods to this list below that match your personality. Pick out three or four of these approaches and give them a try:
- Write a bulleted list to explain and summarise a short book extract.
- Summarise a chapter of your textbook into your own words.
- Create flash cards with a list of facts. Limit each card to seven key points.
- Record a summary using the voice memo function on your phone. Replay back.
- Put keywords and their definition for each subject (per topic) into a hardback.
- View a YouTube video of an expert or listen to audio/podcasts on topics.
- Teach or discuss what you have learned with a member of your family.
- Get your parents/siblings to ask you questions on a topic you have just revised.
- Read a summary out loud to yourself.
- Rotate your place of study to retain freshness. e.g. the garden or kitchen table.
- Create Bubble diagrams with Microsoft PowerPoint to illustrate topic linkages.
- Create a visual Mind Map for a sub-topic you are struggling with.
- Stick nine postits onto an A4 sheet. Write a summary with keywords onto them.
- Use different coloured pens (red and green) to draw attention to key points.
- Use different coloured highlighters to mark relevant details of note.
- Chat to friends to find out how they are approaching certain subjects/topics.
- Stick stickies/sheets on your wall for memory. Rotate content every five days.
- Research topics on the Internet to give yourself that extra piece of information.
- Continually test yourself with sample tests, online quizzes & past exam papers.
- Use Graphic Organisers to create a more visual set of notes (samples below).
Sample Graphic Organisers*
*Source: Using Graphic Organisers in Teaching and Learning (SLSS)
To view last weeks feature article on ‘Core Methodologies for Revising Maths at Home’, click here.
More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition Classes for Junior and Leaving Certificate Students (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his Award winning ACE Maths Solution Books can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!
© Joe McCormack 2021