By Joseph White
“Each of us has gifts, but sometimes it takes a little time to unwrap that gift that we have been given,” says Middle School Learning Specialist Mary Margaret Ryan. Ryan teaches Strategy classes in Collegiate’s Middle School. Students go to Strategies for a wide range of reasons. From foreign language help to learning basic study techniques, “Strategies is designed to help students become more productive learners and apply effective study strategies so that they may succeed in any academic environment.” Strategies consists of two different classes: Language Strategies, which meets eight out of ten days; and Learning Strategies, which meets three out of ten days.
Language Strategies is a class designed for those who do not take a language in seventh grade or for those who have trouble with foreign languages and need extra emphasis on those studies. Learning Strategies, on the other hand, focuses more on time management and individual learning approaches. While the classes seem different, Ryan says “Both Strategies options introduce the concepts and strategies that students need to learn and study in an effective and efficient manner. The course concentrates on the areas of note taking, active listening, content area reading, time management, memory, test preparation, test-taking strategies and vocabulary study.” Mindfulness sessions and other stress-reducing activities also take place in these classes. Ryan says she “incorporates these lessons into my curriculum, along with reducing stress around test taking and how memory can be affected by exercise, stress, and learning differences.”
Ryan says that “My number one goal for each student is to become a better self-advocate, to be able to learn who he/she might learn best and have the confidence to speak for themselves.” These classes do just that. Students graduating from the Strategies classes have a better sense of how they learn and how to apply it as they progress in life. In this class environment, students realize the advantages to meeting with teachers and asking for help. Even at the college level, Ryan says, “I have heard from former students that they are more willing to seek assistance from campus writing centers and academic services departments in hopes to make each class a successful experience.”
After hearing about this, I decided to ask a few former Strategies students how the class helped them with the transition to Upper School.
Caitlin Alloca (‘18) said, “It taught how to prepare better for tests, quizzes, [and] projects.”
Dylan Lyons (‘20) said, “The class helped improve my time management skills, and kept me on a schedule so I wouldn’t procrastinate.”
Edward Sinnott (‘20) said, “It helped me manage my time better and improved my organization for each class.”
I, being a former Strategies student, enjoyed and learned a great deal from these classes. Struggling at a school that didn’t offer these kind of classes, I switched to Collegiate and found success, largely due to the techniques for studying and time management skills I learned in these classes.
Strategies is essential for the developing minds of children. Taking this class, you won’t only learn forms of studying techniques and time management skills, but you will also develop confidence in the classroom.
Featured image credit: Vlastik Svab.