Making the most of opportunities at school

They say that your school years are supposedly the best years of your life. I for one pray they are not your best years. I actually pray you have many many good years ahead packed with all kinds of good things. I hope that you will be able to look back on your years at school with satisfaction, with no sense of regret.

The best way to ensure you leave school, having made the most of your time here and free of regrets, is to look for the bigger picture of how these years affect your future. This will help you see a greater purpose in the decisions you will make throughout these years at school. Imagine you are finishing your last year at school. What will you wish you had done differently?

When you shape your thinking this way, suddenly your purpose will be more focused. But more than that, you will make sure that you can look back on your school years with a sense of satisfaction, content that you made the most of your time at school.

Of course, it is difficult to think about what you might regret in the future.

Here is a list of ideas about how you could prevent some of the most common regrets.

1. Try out for an extracurricular activity

Try out for your favourite sport or the major production or an ensemble, or a debating team, or at least one of the main activities during the year. If you are even vaguely considering trying out for something, do it. Don’t let your doubts hold you back. It is much better to try out for something and not make it than it is to constantly wonder in the future if you would have made it. Accept support jobs if you don’t make the main team. If you don’t make your first choice, keep trying out for other activities until you find one that suits you.

2. Do not try out for anything you do not enjoy

If you make the team and find out it is not what you thought it would be, don’t keep playing the same sport in the future. Finish up the season and don’t try out again. If it is something you can fix by talking to a coach or taking a break, then by all means do that before quitting because you do not want to regret quitting, either. But ultimately do what is best for you and what you enjoy most and you will not regret it in the future. You will also be a better member of the team and make a better contribution.

3. Join a club

School is all about absorbing every opportunity you can. If there isn’t a club that interest you, then start one of your own. Be involved. Be proud of the school you attend. Put your talents to work, learn new skills and meet new people and learn how to work with them. But don’t go overboard and stretch yourself too thinly. Choose what you enjoy most and put your heart and soul into it.

4. Get to know other students

There are lots of people in school and you cannot hope to get to know every one of them. But too often we stick with our own group and miss the chance to broaden our horizons and our friendships. We sit with the same people in class. We hang out with the same people at lunchtime. Take the attitude that everyone has a unique story and personality that is worth getting to know. It is impossible to know beforehand who you could end up being friends with, so don’t take the risk of missing out on a great friendship. Enjoy being known by many people and knowing them.

5. Get to know your teachers.

Teachers come to school because they want to teach you and help you. Get to know them. Many of them have interesting hobbies or stories to tell. They will teach you more than you could ever expect. They will also be a supporter to you and, if they know you well, can speak up for you when you need help.

6. Have fun, but set limits

You will probably regret spending every Friday night at home alone, so go out and have some fun with others your own age. You don’t have to engage in risky activities to have fun. Join a youth group or other community group. You will never regret setting yourself high standards of behaviour. Stay true to who you are and the ideals you live by. Don’t change who you are just for the approval of others.

7. Sleep

It is impossible to do everything and be perfect at everything and get enough sleep at the same time. Choose what is most important to you and don’t stress out about everything else. Keep your schoolwork at the forefront of your priorities and maintain a proper balance. At this age you need plenty of sleep, good food, exercise and fresh air. Plan your time so you look after your health.

8. Go to school events

Ask someone to go with you to a school concert, production or other event. Go along and support your school. If you are not playing, stand on the sidelines and cheer your schoolmates on. At school everything is laid on for you, every opportunity is given to you. This is your chance to get involved – and the chance to make these some of the greatest years of your life.


Birds of a Feather

BirdsHave you ever wondered what goes through your mind when you choose where to sit in a new classroom? Or in a waiting room full of strangers? Or on a bus?

Researchers have found out some interesting facts. Sean Mackinnon  has shown that people sit next to people who resemble themselves

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we tend to sit closer to people like ourselves. Girls sit by girls and boys sit by boys. Adults sit together and young people choose another young person to sit near.

However, Mackinnon’s research goes further than this.

Mackinnon first noted the seating positions of hundreds of different students in a 31-seat computer lab 21 times over 3 months, and whether or not they were wearing glasses – a simple proxy for physical similarity. The students, it was found, sat next to someone who matched them on glass-wearing status far more often than would be expected if they were randomly distributed (the effect size was .63).

A second study of 18 university classes involving over two thousand students expanded this finding to show people were more likely to sit next to someone who matched them on glass-wearing, hair colour and hair length, than would be expected by chance. This held true even focusing just on females or just on Caucasians, thus showing the physical similarity effect is more than mere aggregation by sex or race.

So we can conclude form these studies that we even choose to sit near someone who looks like us. People with glasses are more inclined to sit near other people with glasses. People with long hair sit closer to other people with long hair.

We seem to believe that people with similar physical traits will share similar attitudes and we’re more likely to be accepted by people like ourselves or even, we think we may be safer with people who look like us.

Sometimes that’s true but sensible as it sounds it’s a pity if we always stick to the same people, the same crowd.

The danger in always staying in our comfort zone is that we just recycle the same opinions, the same tastes and ideas, the same fashions.

We lose the chance to learn something new, find out about interesting things, hear  fascinating stories and discover differences.

When birds of a feather stick together, how can we ever break down barriers and banish the ignorance that too often leads to prejudice and even fear?

If instead you want to live in a society that thrives on diversity and variety, be the cat among the pigeons.

Move out of your comfort zone.

Go and sit next to someone different. And don’t just sit there in silence. Say hello. Ask a question. Start a conversation.

That’s how we make friends. That’s how we learn about people. That’s how we open our minds to new ideas.


Mapping a Route Toward Differentiated Instruction

An article by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Developing academically responsive classrooms is important for a country built on the twin values of equity and excellence. Our schools can achieve both of these competing values only to the degree that they can establish heterogeneous communities of learning (attending to issues of equity) built solidly on high-quality curriculum and instruction that strive to maximize the capacity of each learner (attending to issues of excellence).

A serious pursuit of differentiation, or personalized instruction, causes us to grapple with many of our traditional—if questionable—ways of “doing school.” Is it reasonable to expect all 2nd graders to learn the same thing, in the same ways, over the same time span? Do single-textbook adoptions send inaccurate messages about the sameness of all learners? Can students learn to take more responsibility for their own learning? Do report cards drive our instruction? Should the classroom teacher be a solitary specialist on all learner needs, or could we support genuinely effective generalist-specialist teams? Can we reconcile learning standards with learner variance?

The questions resist comfortable answers—and are powerfully important. En route to answering them, we try various roads to differentiation. The concreteness of having something ready to do Monday morning is satisfying—and inescapable. After all, the students will arrive and the day must be planned. So we talk about using reading buddies in varied ways to support a range of readers or perhaps developing a learning contract with several options for practicing math skills. Maybe we could try a tiered lesson or interest centers. Three students who clearly understand the chapter need an independent study project. Perhaps we should begin with a differentiated project assignment, allowing students to choose a project about the Middle Ages. That’s often how our journey toward differentiation begins.

The nature of teaching requires doing. There’s not much time to sit and ponder the imponderables. To a point, that’s fine—and, in any case, inevitable. A reflective teacher can test many principles from everyday interactions in the classroom. In other words, philosophy can derive from action.

We can’t skip one step, however. The first step in making differentiation work is the hardest. In fact, the same first step is required to make all teaching and learning effective: We have to know where we want to end up before we start out—and plan to get there. That is, we must have solid curriculum and instruction in place before we differentiate them. That’s harder than it seems.

Continue reading this article

Attitudes for maintaining unity

discoverunity1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ep. 4:1-3)

In Ephesians Chapter 4, Paul, writing from prison,  explains to the Church at Ephesus the importance of unity, urging people ‘to live a life worthy of the calling you have received’ (v1). In living that life worthy of our calling, there are some basic guidelines that Paul provides to enable us to so. These guidelines are outlined in verse 2 and 3 of Chapter 4 and include:

1. Humility

Humility or lowliness means having a humble opinion of yourself. Not seeing yourself as more important than others. Valuing others as Jesus values others.

2. Gentleness

Gentleness can also mean mildness or meekness. It is not a quality of weakness, but power under control. Jesus himself was ‘meek and lowly of heart’ (Mat 11:29), but He also drove the money changers out of the temple.

3. Patience

The idea here is of forbearance or long-suffering. Being slow to anger. None of us are perfect and we often sin against one another. Maintaining unity is not possible unless we are willing to understand and forgive each other’s imperfections.

4. Bearing with one another in love

This is similar to patience, but by bearing Paul is referring to sustained or endured patience which is made possible through ‘love’. The love referred to here is the definition of  love that is often referred to at weddings and that is a ‘love that suffers long… is not proveoked (1 Cor. 13 4-5)

5. Effort

Effort or endeavour is often something that does not come naturally to us, nor does maintaining unity. These are things that we have to continually work at.
Only by diligently working at each of theses five virtues, can we hope to maintain ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’. (Ep. 4:3)

Buying a car


When buying a used car in Victoria, there a several ways that you can do this including:

  • —Buying from a licensed motor car trader
  • —Buying from a private seller
  • —Buying at auction

Buying from a licensed motor car trader

Advantages include:

  • —Offers you the most protection
  • —Cooling off period (3 business days)
  • —Warranty – three months/5,000 km if the car is not more than 10 years old and has travelled less than 160,000 kilometres
  • —Trader must provide clear title

Disadvantages might be:

  • —Can be more expensive
  • —Be wary of high trade-in offers – the price of the car you are buying may be increased to cover the difference

Buying privately

Advantage might be:

  • —Can be less expensive

Disadvantages are:

  • —There is no cooling-off period
  • —The car is not covered by a statutory warranty
  • —It is your responsibility to check that the car is not stolen, has money owing on it, or is on the written-off vehicles register.

Buying at auction

Advantages are:

  • —Auction house must prove clear title
  • —May get a really good purchase price

Disadvantages are:

  • —Unable to test drive
  • —Little or no time to check car’s background
  • —Rarely able to have inspection carried out
  • —No cooling off period
  • —No statutory warranty
  • —No roadworthy certificate

Buying a mobile phone

20120614T020754The following is a list of key factors to consider when choosing a mobile phone plan:

  • —whether you already have a phone or want a new phone included in your plan
  • —where you live
  • —the number of calls you will make per month
  • —data per month – is it included in your plan?
  • —the number of text messages you will send per month
  • —the time of day you will use your phone
  • —the duration of your calls
  • —whether your friends and family are with a particular phone company and there are ‘mates rates’ or free calls/messages between people with that company
  • —whether you can change your plan if you find it’s not economical for you
  • —do you want phone insurance included with your plan

the fine print – make sure you check all the conditions to avoid hidden c

Making a major purchase

computerThe following is a list of things to consider when making a major purchase:

  1. —Establish an initial idea of price – Google search
  2. —Set up a savings plan
  3. —Research the product – read reviews, compare features of similar products
  4. —Comparison shopping – online and in store
  5. —Evaluate which product best suits your purpose and your budget
  6. —Check out any warranties or other fine print
  7. —Make the big purchase