Holiday Programme at SINDA STEP (Day 3 to Day 5)
Introducing the concept of Time Management and defining its elements, the opening activity involved inviting the students as a class to estimate the time spent on various daily activities in a typical school day. Using a flash-based calculator (right: taken off the internet), the calculation led to the visual representation (via a pie-chart) that there was only precious little 'spare' time in any given school day.
This trigger activity was then followed by an individual exercise to create a pie-chart illustrative of the 24 hours spent on a typical school day for each student. As expected, many students found that there was hardly any time for studies and, interestingly, it was clear that for the majority of the students the problem was spending too much time with friends (primarily due to the inability to turn down invitations by friends to meet).
The students clearly enjoyed the activity and while they were not completely sold on the idea or purpose of the exercise, they nevertheless enjoyed preparing their unique pie-charts and comparing them with their peers and friends.
The next activity was similarly illustrative in nature and involved students each drawing 4 lines on a half-A4 sized paper to create a 3x3 grid (i.e. nine boxes - example at left). The students were asked to leave the centre box blank and fill out the remaining 8 boxes with activities they do in a typical school day that does not involve studying. Most found it quite easy to think of such things - although some did struggle (our observation was that those who were working hard on their studies found the most difficulty).
After the boxes were filled out, the students were then asked to tear away the boxes that did not contribute to their health, family or education. For example, if the activity was 'housework' (i.e. family) or 'playing soccer with friends' (i.e. health) it was not torn, but if it was 'hanging out' or 'shopping' they were torn off. There was a fair amount of uncertainty if an activity listed contributed to the 3 elements or not and students took the effort to clarify with the instructors. At the end of the tearing process, most students had only one or two boxes intact and this was related back to the fact that the amount of time they really had was extremely limited.
Having illustrated the critical nature of time - and its management, and not to mention the students primed to be more receptive, some of the tools that could be used to manage their time or prioritise were shared and students were encouraged to seek further information or approach the instructors for further assistance if they were interested. Finally, they were asked to retain their individual pie-charts as a reminder of how they are spending their time (i.e. to facilitate their continued reflection on the subject of Time Management).
We intended to follow-up our workshop on Time Management with one on Goal Setting but decided to give the students a treat and screened an edited version of the animated movie Open Season (right). The movie's plot included embracing change and overcoming challenges and we felt the students would relate to the characters.
True enough, the students enjoyed the movie and immediately after the screening, we issued worksheets (below: click on worksheet image to see full-size) to facilitate the students in reflecting on the story and relating them to their own experiences. Essentially, the worksheet drew attention to the plans that had gone wrong, how they felt when they went wrong, how they intended to overcome those setbacks and what obstacles they are likely to face in the process.
The instructors went around to supervise the progress of the students and, again, we discovered the students facing difficulty in disappointing their friends (i.e. turning down friends' invitations in favour of focussing on studying). Perhaps this could be due to their overt experiences with rejection (i.e. they do not want to inflict such pain and sorrow unto others), coupled with their inability to prioritise well.
In any case, the purpose of the exercise was to sensitise the students to the virtues of planning ahead and accepting setbacks of executing one's plans, and this was objective was largely achieved. Finally, the students were advised to retain their worksheets as a statement of intent.
Having briefly explored Goal Setting, we decided to introduce the elements of good goal setting and facilitate the students to draw up their own goals towards intended outcomes for their academic progress. We opened the workshop with an individual exercise - a word search comprising the five elements of the SMART goals (i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). This was followed by the introduction and explanation of what the SMART goals are and and the points were illustrated by contrasting ambiguous examples against clear ones.
We followed this with an reverse goal setting activity (left: click on worksheet image to see full-size) and encouraged students to think about their ambitions and what steps they would need to take from their current level to accomplish them. Whilst some students were very specific in what they wished to achieve in life, the majority had only a rough idea and a few even had never thought about this (one student had a callous attitude and felt 'life would take care of itself').
Nevertheless, we guided the students through the exercise and it was encouraging to see several students actively seeking out the necessary information from the instructors in order to achieve their intended goals. We were also pleased to note that all the students managed to either map out an outline towards achieving their ambitions, or (at the very least) seriously considered the necessary qualities to achieve them. Even the aforementioned student who had a 'take it easy' outlook discovered that her interests lay in tattoo art.
The students were asked to keep this copy of their plan for future reference and encouraged to work out a more detailed version and/or build a more detailed breakdown for themselves. Most notably, the purpose of the workshop to ensure each and every student introspected on their goals and ambitions had clearly been achieved - and the students were told it was nothing something that they can ever throw away!
Day 6 & 7 of the Holiday Programme continues here...