Earlier this week the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (grade 12) results were published. Our school students made us proud with amazing results, the highest was the perfect score of 45/45 (100%). Amidst all the celebrations I reflected on the students who got the perfect scores. There are a few common behavioural characteristics and approaches to learning that I was able to identify. Knowing these attributes can clearly help high achieving and their teachers to get the perfect score or perform to the best of their ability. Here are my top 5 tips for getting the perfect score!
A perfect score is more than ability, it is about interest and motivation. The motivation is not linked to materialistic interests rather linked with an innate desire to be better and know better. Students who choose their subjects as per their interests and abilities stay motivated throughout the journey as they truly seek to understand the complexities of the subject matter. Hence, they are intrinsically motivated in spite of challenges even failures, these students always bounce back and get the perfect score.
Teachers also have a big role to play when it comes to keeping students intrinsically motivated. They must focus on positive reinforcement and value addition to the students’ purpose of learning. This fosters a sense of working towards a bigger perspective or a meaningful goal that is above and beyond the perfect score. Here I would like to reinforce that grades or scores are a result of achieving the actual purpose of learning, not the actual purpose in itself. Hence the reward for the student is to achieve satisfaction and self-worth.
Superior Self-Management Skills
Thomas Edison quoted a long time ago, “there is no substitute for hard work”. This applies even today. Hard work in today’s context means being ahead of the curve by developing superior self-management skills. For example, always completing work on time; always being well prepared for lessons; always organizing work effectively; always managing time with a rigorous plan; always creating a strategy to avoid burnout. The word ‘always’ is necessary as consistency is key.
Teachers can help students to organize themselves better, for example, by sharing effective planning tools, using cloud space for increased accessibility from anywhere, anytime; initiating the good practice of using the calendar to set reminders; introducing them to tools like Evernote, OneNote, Dayone, etc.
Quality over Quantity
Students must know to prefer quality over quantity. Instead of searching and using many sources and texts, they need to use one recognized good quality source for practising their academic skills. Sometimes students antagonize using expensive textbooks or online resources, they look for cheaper options, this approach needs to be curbed. They need to invest in themselves. Quality resources come at a price and are worth it. Having one go-to resource also saves a lot of time which is usually spent in finding free resources or texts. Remember higher the investments, the higher the returns.
Teachers should also set the bar high with resources. Make sure all textbooks are available to students, hardcopy and softcopy both. Make a case for purchasing quality resources for students. While assigning tasks keep in mind to prioritize the purpose over the amount of task. This helps save a lot of precious time, quality of task over quantity of task.
Design thinking routines help to get rid of bugs in the design cycle, similarly, students who practice enough to remove distractions are better geared towards the perfect score. These students are able to remove any distractions that divert them from their objectives. This is an essential skill to be academically successful, firstly identify the bug or distraction and next get rid of it. For example, some students mute notifications on their devices when doing intense creative and cognitive work. This is a great strategy to be in the present moment and deal with the task at hand without thinking about unnecessary matters.
Teachers can help by teaching students to increase their attention span, for example, plan for activities like meditation and yoga as a warmup or unwinding activity. These not only help to increase attention span they are also great stress busters. Technology can also come to the rescue, it offers great apps like Headspace, Calm, Unplug etc for meditation and mental relaxation, teachers must make good use of it.
High achieving students always ask for feedback and work on it to improve. This quality is rare in adolescents, but much required. Senior students like to believe that they know everything, or they know the best, thanks to their raging puberty hormones. Those who are able to win the battle over their id, ego and superego tend to seek advice and feedback from experts like teachers and parents. This quality is a defining attribute and those who have it have the edge over others.
Teachers have the responsibility to give meaningful feedback, it is what leads the student to the perfect score. Feedback aids in providing direction, solving problems and making meaning of learning. Feedback is the catalyst for students to apply their knowledge to solve real-life problems and gain understanding. I strongly believe focused feedback and focus on feedback are the two secrets for a perfect score.
As an educator, I do not set a goal for achieving higher grades only, in fact, the goal is always to gain understanding. But the students who gain understanding and go the extra mile, get the perfect score. Hence my translation of the perfect score is perfect knowledge and understanding.