Dancing through Year 11 and 12Nathan Barr
Dance and Succeeding at School
How to keep dancing and achieve at School
As students move into their senior years of schooling, they often pull back on the number of dance classes they take per week to focus on their studies.
But what if they didn’t have to change their dance workload too drastically and were still able to be high achievers at school?
In this blog post, we look at Josie Mansell, a much loved member of the DS Family. Josie is not only an amazing dancer and dance teacher, but is also a high achiever at school. Here we will see how Josie organises her week, which includes:
- School – she is in Year 11 at Kiama HS
- Taking 10.5 hours of dance classes at DS
- Teaching 2.5 hours of dance classes at DS
- Leadership commitments as the newly appointed Vice Captain of Kiama High School
No time for dancing – debunking the myth
Something that we have heard a lot over the years is:
…going into year 11 next year, she won’t have enough time for doing as many dance classes.
We fully understand that their education is THE number 1 priority over the next two years. However the issue isn’t that there is not enough time, it is that students are not very good at organising their study time, and they are even worse at efficiently using their study time. Which is where our case study with Josie starts 🙂
As you can see, Josie is a busy bee…as most Senior students (and adults) are. However, even the busiest students can still make large time commitments to out of school activities and still have plenty of time to focus on their academic study. The benefits of doing this include:
- A happier and healthier all round student
- A student who is more focused
- Learning sophisticated time management skills that apply to any further study and job they will do in the future.
In short, it more adequately prepares them for success outside of the school setting.
Let’s see how Josie started looking at how to better use her time during the week.
Planning out your week
Josie goes to maths tutoring with Nathan at Switched On Education. One week they spent part of a lesson mapping out Josie’s entire week on her phone/computer’s calendar. The order we entered things in were:
- School days
- Dance classes/dance teaching
- Homework/study time
After we had entered school and 13 hours of dancing (including her work), even Josie was surprised to see that she still had over 35 waking hours every week to choose from to do her school work.
From there we slotted in 11 hours of homework time per week. Some things we took into account when doing this were:
- She needed to use her Monday arvo’s effectively
- Tuesday’s were practically a write off (see dot point 1)
- She needed to use her Wednesday arvo’s effectively
- Using her 2 x 45 min breaks on a Thursday at dancing would help
- No one wants to study on a Friday night or all day Saturday if they can help it!
- Sunday arvo/evening is a pretty good time to do school work.
Josie ended up having to do a study block on a Saturday morning, but she was OK with that as it left her Friday and Saturday nights free and large chunk of Sunday.
We also talked about how with some give and take you can be flexible within this too. If you have a big all weekend event coming up (like a school snow trip) that’s great! Forget all about any schoolwork for that Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But write down when you are going to make up that time. It will mean extra study time the weekend before and after. There always needs to be give and take to make these things work.
Adding some detail – the key to success
While setting all of this up in our Calendar and making it look pretty is easy, putting it into practice and sticking to it is HARD. I mean, even a lot of adults can’t do this effectively! So we talked about some ways to make sure this is a success.
- Schoolwork is a phone-free time
No one can work effectively with the distraction of their phone. Doing one hour of study WITHOUT your phone near you time is worth 2-3 hours of study with the distractions of your phone. Studies show that it takes 22 minutes to completely re-focus on a task once you are distracted by something else #snapchat #instagram! Keep your phone in another room and use it as a reward for completing your study block.
- The devil is in the detail
For Josie, we’ve set aside 10 mins each Sunday night to plan out her study blocks during the week. If there is an assessment task due soon, assign a block to sit and get some of it done. If there are no tasks due, assign the block to be review time for a particular subject. Obviously, if you get homework assigned during the week you do that before review…but having something written to do each time means less time is spent procrastinating and more time is spent doing work #workingsmarternotharder.
- Be punctual
If you’ve set 60 minutes to do part of your Legal Studies assessment at 5:00pm, then you are set up and starting to work on it at 5:00pm. Too often students will float in to their workspace at 5:05pm…then waste time doing a whole lot of nothing pretending they are ‘getting ready’. Then a quick check of Snapchat (see point 1) and Instagram…and before they realise, it’s 5:25pm and they’ve wasted all that time. Be punctual. If you’re meant to start at 5:00pm, finish whatever you are doing before that at 4:55pm #lifelessons
- Get your parents to help you
If we’re being honest, starting this schedule is going to be HARD. The first 3-4 weeks will require a lot of discipline to stick to it. But once you get in a habit the rewards will be huge. Get your parents to help you stick to it…they want you to succeed more than anyone! Be a grown up and give them the permission to be hard on you, and don’t get angry at them when they do. You’ll thank them later!
The end goal is worth it
If dancing has been a huge part of a student’s life up until now, then suddenly stopping or cutting right back can do more harm than good. For these students, having a positive and creative outlet to focus their time and energy on will help with their mental health and well-being.
Even for the busiest student, there is always time to fit in lots of extra curricular activities. Obviously, they can’t do everything, and they may have to make some sacrifices somewhere…but that’s what growing up is all about. By learning valuable time management skills, and making effective use of your study time, you can be successful at school and still dance to your heart’s content.
Over to you
Did you keep up a heavy dance class load while finishing high school? Or perhaps you dropped back or stopped dancing all together? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.