A Message from Mrs Cohen

13 October 2017

I must be honest, with four late nights in a row and meetings back to back - I ran out of time to write an article. But I am all about finding a solution, not focusing on the problem, so I found someone else’s article to share. I hope you share it with your children too. Enjoy!

What makes sports stars like Serena and Venus Williams great? We think we know: they are naturals who came into the world with a talent for playing tennis. Fortunately for all the rest of us, it's not so simple.

The good news is that talent has little or nothing to do with success. In virtually every field of endeavour, most people learn quickly at first, then more slowly and then stop developing completely. A few people keep improving for years and go on to greatness.

But greatness isn't handed to anyone; it requires a lot of hard work. Yet that isn't enough since many people work hard for years without getting significantly better. What's missing? The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to the kind of practice that's intended to make you do better, tells you how well you are doing and involves doing the same things over and over again.

So how do you practise schoolwork? Think about all your schoolwork, like writing, reading, calculating, sitting tests, understanding difficult material – the list goes on and you can practise them all.

First of all, you have to start every task with a new goal: instead of merely trying to get it done, you aim to get better at it. Everything that you do at school, from the most basic task to the most demanding, is a skill you can improve. Once you know that, you will approach your schoolwork in a new way. You will process information more deeply and retain it longer. You will want more information on what you’re doing and adopt a longer-term point of view.

You aren't just getting the work done, you're trying to get better at it.

Feedback is crucial, and getting feedback is easy at school. Some students give up when their work is criticised. The ones who do well welcome criticism as the path to getting better results. They even ask teachers to show them where they are going wrong and how they can get better.

The important truth is we can make ourselves what we want.

Here are some ways you can try:

1. Approach each school task with the goal of getting much better at it.

2. As you do the task, focus on what's happening and why you're doing it the way you are.

3. After the task, ask your teacher for feedback on your work. Make changes in your work as necessary. Practise the changes.

4. Think about your future and the jobs you will be able to do, the life you want to lead.

5. Do these things all the time, not just now and then.

Acknowledgement: Adapted from What it takes to be great
by Geoffrey Colvin, senior editor-at-large, Fortune Magazine

Mrs Kim Cohen

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