Better Organised: Better Grades

The sixth chapter taken from the Academic Success Formula is written by Bob Rosedale, Vice President of Franchise Success for Tutor Doctor. Throughout the chapter, Bob discusses the importance of students being organised and how it’s often the key to achieving better grades. He provides insight into how students undermine their success due to an inability to manage their time, stay focused and how utilising the Academic Game Plan can be beneficial. 

It’s all about organisation

The majority of us are inconsistent whenit comes to being able to proactively organise our lives, complete important tasks and manage time effectively. Students in particular can suffer academically from not having the organisation skills needed to be successful. In fact, even the most intelligent students can fail exams or get bad marks due to not being unable to prioritise and manage their schedule to the best of their ability. 

A great case study to illustrate this is a sixteen-year-old boy, who had never failed anything in his life and maintained high marks throughout home-schooling. His parents requested a consultation due to him failing an online maths course and thought a one-to-one tutor would be the best way to get their son back on track. Even though it seemed like a straightforward enrolment, after a discussion about getting the right tutor, the student’s father realised that his son needed a different approach. “My son doesn’t need a maths tutor. He didn’t fail the online course because he can’t understand maths. My son has a 150 IQ and can do the maths. He failed the online course because he couldn’t organise his time on his own. He gets distracted by shiny objects. He doesn’t know how to prioritise tasks or manage his time. I want someone who can coach my son on how to develop these skills.” 

Smart but scattered

This quickly became a common concern of parents who had kids in secondary school. Even though they believed their children had the ability to achieve whatever they set their mind to, they were unable to fulfill their potential for reasons parents couldn’t easily describe. In fact, many Tutor Doctor franchise owners revealed how they are often inundated with enquiries from parents who say their children are ‘smart but scattered.’ Parents are aware of how capable their children are, but not being able to map out enough time to complete homework on time and stay focused in lessons makes it almost impossible to be successful. Often this becomes extremely frustrating for the students and parents, causing tension at home which negatively impacts the student’s confidence and academic performance. 

Executive function deficit 

It was soon realised that these students were manifesting a deficit in their ‘executive functions.’ The Forgotten Middle Study by the creators of ACT in the USA, looked specifically at the factors that provided the best indication of university or career readiness after high school. The conclusion was what students achieve academically by eighth grade (age 13-14) actually has a much bigger impact on their university and career preparation than their high school results. Interestingly, high school performance is dependent on academic discipline rather than just academic knowledge, meaning if a student hasn’t developed executive skills such as time management, prioritisation and organisation by age 13-14 , as soon as they’re challenged with multiple subjects and extracurricular activities, they’ll often find themselves struggling or falling behind. 

The X-Skills Game Plan 

With this study in mind, it’s clear that there are two components to academic success: academic knowledge and academic discipline. Every student needs a balance of both, however realising that every student is different makes effectively supporting them a challenge. This is how theTutor Doctor X-Skills Game Planwas born. Designed as a tool that integrates everything together, it helps students develop their organisational and time management skills, as well as understand how to think more strategically and proactively about their own learning. It uses simple daily checklists so students can be prepared for the school day and makes sure they leave enough time to complete homework. At the end of each day, students are expected to provide an accountability debrief to their tutor or parent. The ultimate objective is to keep students actively engaged on a daily basis to ensure they’re actively assessing progress towards their goals.

The benefits of the academic game plan

As soon as students start using the Game Plan correctly and it starts becoming second nature to them, families can look forward to three main benefits:

1. Students will develop the skills to complete tasks independently and achieve academic discipline, which means they’ll be more organised and finish tasks on time. 

2. As tutors observe their students gaining confidence in the subject matter and are able to execute tasks independently, it becomes a very rewarding experience for them. In fact, as students become more disciplined, tutoring sessions will be more efficient as tutors are able to apply themselves towards getting students confident in and ahead of the curriculum. 

3.If students are effectively utilising their Game Plan, parents can be confident that tutoring sessions are beneficial and achieving results, which maximises the investment they’ve made in their child’s education

So.. what does academic success look like?

Academic success may look different for everyone; however, a universal definition that applies for every student is when they’re able to confidently sustain their performance at higher and higher levels. This captures the true essence of self-motivation, regardless of what a student’s marks are. As they gain confidence, it will simply be their natural instinct to find greater challenges throughout their academic career. This is why the Game Plan is so powerful, as it not only builds up executive functioning skills, but over time gives students confidence to believe in their own ability and continue on their academic journey with their own self-motivation. Here’s just a few examples of the positive impact the X-Skills Game Plan has had so far. 

Tutor:Steve has now gotten in the habit of checking his own PowerSchool to see his marks. He’s really taking initiative. He has stayed on top of his homework and writing it in his X-Skills notebook. He also schedules time to do his work and study … He is doing such a great job and keeping up with his homework, studying, and keeping organised … He has due dates set in mind and writes them in his X-Skills Game Plan. I am just so proud of him.

Thirteen-year-old student:At the beginning of the year, I was having problems understanding my teacher, and I was struggling in maths. [My tutor] helped me understand my new subjects better. He also helped me with problems that did not make any sense to me. Before he started helping me, my grade was a ‘C’ and then when he started helping me, I got up to an ‘A’ almost immediately. [My tutor] also taught me many other skills like how to set up a schedule to complete and reach goals on big projects. This skill he taught me was very important this year because of all my big projects. This also helped me with the little things like handing homework in on time. In the end, I believe that … because of him I brought my marks up and succeeded in maths and I was able to make a comeback.