If I were you… Starting Year 12 well

This is likely the last Friday before you head back to school and as such, I thought it fitting to discuss not a specific aspect of the year 12 course or a particular text but instead, hand over some general advice on how to start year 12 well and in a way that establishes a pattern of success.

I’m taking my inspiration from my own experiences as a student and what I have observed as a teacher. I hope you’ll find these helpful as you come into this new year.

  1. Get to know your teachers
    So, for the last 11 years you’ve thought teachers were The. Worst. You thought they planned the assignments to fall in the busiest times of the year, that they wrote deliberately confusing instructions, that they delighted in giving you detention and that the only thing that bought them more pleasure than a full coffee cup was a full page of notes for you to copy down. While I don’t deny that at times assessments do seem to all fall in the one spot, I promise you that this is a) unintentional and b) we actively try to avoid it. (It’s even in the staff manual at my old school to try not to assign too much work all at once!). I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
    Your teachers are there to help you.
    Honest.
    And we want to know our students. There’s a reason I ask my students to introduce themselves to me in one way or another at the start of the year. I love reading about your lives and I genuinely want to connect with you as a person. If I know you as a person as opposed to just another student, I’m able to help you more. I’m able to suggest things to help you that you already have a natural interest in. I’m able to honestly give you advice on your skills and abilities. I’m able to suggest other networks which you can go to for help- but only if I know what networks you have.
    I’m not suggesting you become besties with your teacher, but I heavily recommend getting to know them, telling them a bit about yourself, letting them know where you excel and where you struggle. Ask them about their classroom and homework protocols. When and where is a good time and place to find them if you need help through the day or after school. Ask them if it’s ok to email them after hours.
    This is not only good advice for year 12 but it’s actually the BEST piece of advice I have for uni. Get to know your lecturers and tutors. In a world where you are a number out of 300, just knowing your name and face could make the difference between a lecturer caring about your personal crisis and give you an extension and a lecturer ignoring or deleting your email.
  2. Use your diary/planner
    …for more than your friend’s birthdays and curriculum days. Those things are important, yes, but if you keep track of when things are due or SACs are on the horizon, it will be a lot more manageable when it seems like all your teachers have it in for you (see above- we don’t!). Actually track how long you have to do different assignments and consider when you have time to study for/complete them. If you actually keep count of the days and know when you’re going to tackle these pieces, you’ll be in a much better place. I’m not necessarily suggesting a strict study timetable (ie. from 5-6 Monday I’ll study English) though these can be useful- especially in the lead up to exams, more just being actively aware of your schedule so you never get to school only to see all your friends cramming for the Further SAC you thought was next Tuesday.
  3. Don’t give up on your passions
    Year 12 is important but so is having a life. Please don’t become a recluse whose idea of a fun day out is spending an hour at Officeworks printing out your HHD notes. (That said, Officeworks is life.) Continue playing sport, keep going to youth, maintain your part time job, go to your friend’s 18ths, keep up your regular gym routine, don’t neglect having dinner with your family, don’t neglect the latest netflix gem. Just keep it in balance.
    Obviously, if you have 10 SACs coming up in the next two weeks, you may need to cut back a bit. But cut back, not cut out: perhaps it’s an idea to save the next three episodes of PLL for when you finish that Literature analysis or to go to your friend’s party but leaving after speeches instead of partying until 3. Maybe you do a 20 min tabata workout instead of a 2 hour weights/flexing selfie session. You could negotiate with your brother for him to do your chores after family dinner this week in return for doing his chores when you’re next a bit free-er.
    You should not see your year 12 from behind a stack of books, rather they should frame your life- provide the outline which you keep in mind when making decisions- but not the dominating view. Year 12 was one of the best years of my schooling life. It wouldn’t have been the case if I had studied 24/7
  4. Participate in school events
    As a year 12, you have the best of both worlds- the younger students look up to you and take their cue from you and you are unlikely to ever see anyone who will judge you ever again! Therefore, do the things!! Go to and participate the sporting events, dress up for Book Week, get involved in the fundraisers, go on school trips… whatever! Just do it! You’ll make memories, get loads of likes on your instagram and get to reminisce in 3 or 4 years when you’re catching up in the year of 21sts!  Only thing is- if you’re missing class, please check what you’re missing and how you can catch up. This is where step 1 comes into play. If your teacher knows this music trip is important to you they’ll be way more likely to help you out than if the only thing they know about you is your name.
  5. Develop a strong support network.
    This could include your friends, teachers (step 1), parents, doctors, pastors, grandparents, trainers, hairdressers, pets… whoever. Find people who have your best interests at heart- in lots of different areas. Find people who are going to tell you what you need to hear. You need people who are going to tell you that you need to work harder. You need people who are going to tell you that it might be time to take a break. BUT also have people in your life who are going to tell you what you want to hear at times. Sometimes you just want someone to tell you that you’re ok and on the right track and if someone tells you something else than you’re just going to break down and cry. You’re not going to want to go to your parents for everything, nor are your friends going to always be the right people to go to.
    Also, be a part of someone else’s support network. Listen as much as you talk, hold as much as you need to be held, pray as much as you request prayer. Be there for others. Nurture your relationships, they’re more important (OMG) than an arbitary number.
  6. Finally, make goals and keep them visible… but in perspective
    Actually writing down SMART* goals and keeping them in view is really helpful when you’re deciding between reading the English text and reading the latest Buzzfeed article. Suddenly finding out the 20 things you DEFINITELY remember if you’re a true 90s kid will seem less important if you keep your goal of achieving a study score of 25 or above in English in plain sight.
    That said, I don’t recommend specific number based goals because you actually don’t have much control over those. The numbers you get texted to you three days before the official date (oops) are decided by so many different factors that all you can do is your best. Consider making goals which you can control, like “I want to write chapter/scene summaries for all my English texts as I read them” or “I want to complete 5 practice Specialist Maths exams each month”. That way, you have some agency in if they are completed or not.
    However, keep these in perspective. Your mental health is vastly more important than if you read and analyse the Opinion Pages at least 3 times a week. Prioritise your goals and decide which ones should take up your time and headspace and when you’re feeling under pressure- focus on that one. Also consider making non- academic goals such as fitness, friendship, saving, work and faith related goals. This will help you keep the other goals in perspective because let’s be honest- year 12 is for one year, your faith is for eternity and your finances will decide how much smashed avo you can buy and still afford a house.

I hope you find this helpful and I pray that your year will be an unforgettable and productive time. Let me know, as always, if there’s anything specific you want me to cover!

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