My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Did I Cope in School?

How do you manage school when you can't follow the teacher's instructions and lectures? What do you do when you can't remember how to spell a word or math formulas? How do you pass tests when you can't remember names and dates? How does a creative person like me survive in school?


Write it Down
I had help. My dad also had a memory for details like a sieve. When I was in elementary school he gave me this small black book and told me to write down everything I needed to remember in it; my assignments and basic information such as my name, address, phone number. I still keep a small notebook in my bag and now include family and friends information and email addresses, and another small notebook with me at all times. I smile now when people think I am so organized. They don't realize that this is the only way I can survive- I must write down everything I need to remember. I have a paper (now online) memory. Writing it down keeps the details float away into thin air.

I found that just the process of taking notes, of writing itself, helps me to remember things. I have a fantastic visual memory. I can re-experience things I've done, remember what people look like, and replay a movie I've seen. I learned how to make outline notes and try and write down the main ideas and supporting details. This helps to make lectures something I can see, therefore something I can remember.

Instructions
I tried to sit by a person who seem to be following all that was happening. After the teacher gave the assignment instructions, I would ask that person what we were to do, carefully writing down each step of what we were to do. It made my life so much easier when the teacher wrote the assignment on the board, and gave us assignments pages, and printed lecture notes.

Overview
I used to listen to a lecture not catching what was being said. At the end I would know what they were talking about. I needed the whole picture, to understand what the main idea was first, then there was a place to put the details. Many teachers add details until they build up to the conclusion. That's where I start! Since I couldn't follow a lecture, I took the text book home and read the lesson the night before. With an idea of what they were talking about, I was able to follow and make notes. People that are visual-spatial truly need the "whole picture". Studying the photos, charts, captions, introduction and questions at the end of the chapter helped to give me  this "whole picture" so I could understand what the teacher was saying.

Working
It didn't take me long to realize that I can't think with a lot of noise, activity, and people around me. I have a tremendous ability to concentrate for long periods of time, but I can only tap into this great mental ability if I am in a quiet place by myself. (at school back rooms and library were good).

I'll write about test taking next.

Let me know if you have specific questions on how I managed school