As the new school year approaches and summer vacations wind down, it is time to start thinking about the best ways to get ready to come back to school and be prepared for the rigorous bilingual International Baccalaureate (IB) education that is the Upper School at Silicon Valley International School (INTL).
Getting back into the routine of school can seem challenging, but three simple tips from Geneva Robinson, INTL’s Assistant Head of School, can set you on the right track for the new academic year.
Reflect on your past experiences at school.
Reflect on the one or two school subjects that are strengths; subjects that are the most interesting or you are the most passionate about. An essential element of the IB Learner Profile is being “reflective.” As a reflective learner, you work to understand your strengths and also areas that need growth in order to support your own learning and personal development. When thinking about an area of strength, what made that a subject of interest or what skills did you learn that you would like to hone further this year?
Also reflect on the one or two subjects that may have been a challenge previously, and investigate what ways you can improve. Make a list, and get an adult on board to support you with that challenge (such as one of your parents, relatives, teachers, or advisors). Knowing the areas that need growth and what makes something challenging will enable you to create a plan on how to conquer that subject and helps prepare you to overcome that obstacle.
Think about extracurricular activities.
Extracurricular activities (whether it be creative, active, service oriented, or a hobby) can make you a more balanced and well-rounded individual. Get a list of the clubs or sports on campus and see what fits your passion or what excites you. If there is something that you love, but nothing fits what you are looking for, talk to a teacher or advisor on how to start a club or activity that you are passionate about. Extracurriculars give you the chance to grow outside of the classroom as an individual, and take initiative. As part of your social-emotional learning, extracurricular activities can help you grow by developing new strengths you didn't know you had or presenting new challenges for you to take on and overcome.
Extracurricular activities are an essential part of fulfilling your Service as Action and Creativity Action Service (CAS) requirements that are core components of the IB education in the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme. Pursuing creative activities, engaging in sports or other types of physical activities, or spending time doing service fulfills these requirements. These types of activities help you to become well balanced, caring individuals who contribute to your communities. Additionally, they are great counterbalances to the academic rigors of your educational life.
Get organized and stay organized.
Strong organizational skills are key to a successful Upper School experience; it helps to keep you on track and moving forward towards your goal. Finding the organizational style that works best for you is part of growing as a student and as an individual. For example, in Elementary School, students begin to learn to use paper planners. In Middle School, students are required to use their school planners but will have a better understanding of how to get the most out of their planners. In High School, part of your independence is finding the method of organization that works for you; whether it be your trusty school planner or going digital with your laptop or tablet. As an Upper School student, your methods will continue to grow and adapt to match the rigors of your academic programs.
Organizing is a form of self-management which helps you become more empowered and to become more independent as you grow. The most successful students have found a consistent method to stay on top of their classes and all the information they gather. Consistency makes your studying and homework much more efficient, and helps you manage your time well for longer term tasks like projects and upcoming tests, too.
Overall, these tips are just a small part of what can help you to become a successful learner in the Upper School at INTL. Use the Approaches to Learning skills and Learner Profile attributes from your International Baccalaureate education and be empowered to discover your passions in and out of the classroom; to be an active participant and advocate in your learning; and cultivate your own organizational methods to help you stay on top of your projects and homework.
Sign up to learn more about INTL's Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme here.