How to Succeed in a Class When You Don't Vibe with the Teaching Style

Student Life

We've all been there. You're sitting in class, you love the subject and you're excited to learn... but for some reason you're disconnecting. For me, this is my dual credit biology course. I absolutely love biology. It's always been one of my favorite subjects, and in my Freshman year I excelled in it. I considered at first that the issue may be that it was a higher level course, but quickly waved that notion aside when I read the textbook and understood it perfectly.

Our understanding of information relies heavily upon how it is presented to us. And while I enjoy my teacher and being in this class, I also recognize that his style of teaching isn't effective for me. If you've found yourself in a similar situation, then this article is for you! Without further ado, here are 8 study tips to help you succeed in a class where you and your teacher's styles clash.

1. Keep Two Notebooks

For every notebook you use in class, keep a second one for organization. Take your first notebook to class, write everything down how it is presented to you. This notebook will undoubtedly be messy and disorganized. During study hall, or after school, transfer your notes from class into a second notebook in an order that makes sense to you. I call this second notebook my decorative notebook.

This is the pretty, clear one that's free of the errors and disorder the first notebook holds. You can color code, add side notes, and examples to your hearts content, spending as much time as you need on it, not being constrained by the rushed class period. Using your decorative notebook for studying before quizzes and tests allows you to review the information in a clear and concise manner. An alternative to a second notebook is to type it out on a doc if that works better for you than a physical copy!

2. Read Your Textbook

I'm not going to lie, this is incredibly annoying, time-consuming, and overall unpleasant. However, reading the sections of your textbook that correspond with what you're reviewing in class will help you.

Textbooks typically relay the information in basic terms. This simplistic approach may help you get a general understanding of the material. It's easy to glaze out when reading a textbook, so make sure you're reading to understand, and not just to say you've finished the section/chapter. If you don't comprehend what you've just read, then it isn't going to help you. Taking notes straight from the book is also a great way to stay ahead of your own organizational methods.

3. Ask Questions

As awkward as this may feel, you need to be open and honest with your teacher. Make sure to ask for clarifications if you need them, and don't be afraid to ask your teacher to slow down. I am myself admittedly really bad at this. I find it easier to ask questions when I understand things and want to know more, than I do when I'm falling behind. However, what you and I need to remember is that it's our teacher's job to help us. If you're falling behind, you two owe it to each other to work together to create the best possible learning environment for you to succeed in.

This tip can look like raising your hand in class, or hanging around afterwards to schedule some one-on-one lecture time. It's a lot harder to do in larger schools than in small ones, but just try your best. If your teacher isn't willing to help you, that's on them. It's not your fault. However, there are plenty of other ways for you to help yourself.

4. Schedule

Reserve an hour or so every night to go over the content of your course. High school life is incredibly busy, and sometimes there is not enough time in your day to get everything you need to have done- done. But by spending a little bit of time every night, you allow yourself time to digest the course material.

If you're unable to do this every night, make sure to at least fit some study time in a couple of days a week. Making something part of your routine allows it to become second nature, and fit into your life better.

5. Aromatherapy

Assign a scent to your class. When studying for this class, surround yourself with that scent. This can be a lotion, perfume, essential oil, etc. When in class, apply this same scent to yourself. Being exposed to it while learning and exacting the information will help strengthen your memory around the subject.

This tip is especially helpful when taking tests! Aromatherapy is more of a general study tip than a specific-to-a-difficult-class tip. However, it is effective, and when applied under these circumstances, may prove to be useful for you.

6. Teach What You Learned

One of the best ways to test if you know something, is to try to teach it to someone else. Once you've formed an understanding of the subject, you can relay this information back to anyone who will listen. The goal here is to make sure that you comprehend this information well enough that, relying on what's in your head, you can get someone else to understand it as well.

This method can be most effective when teaching to a study-buddy from the same class. That way, if you have any gaps, your fellow pupil can fill in the spots you're not completely confident in.

7. Specialized Study System

When in doubt, go with what you know. Are you super into sports? Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Turn your passion into a study plan! This is completely customizable to your interests and needs. For example, if you're passionate about music, turn the topic you're going over into a song to help you learn.

When I was a freshman, in my first biology class, we did a project where I got to write the DNA replication process as a short film script. Now that I've reached this subject in my dual credit college biology class, I can look back on that to study with it.

8. Self-Reward

Sit down and hit the books, but also realize that endless hours of scanning course material is not good for you, and it's ineffective. Leave little breaks for yourself, get up and play a round of Just Dance, grab a snack, call your best friend, or play with a volleyball. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself a well deserved pause. That being said, make sure your reward time doesn't take over study-time completely. Keep these breaks brief!

Grab your cozy gear, go to your comfy place, get your favorite snack, and get to studying!

Final Takeaways

As a senior, I can tell you that high school is hard, so go easy on yourself!! Try a few of these out, tweak them a bit, and see what works for you. Each of these can be helpful from the simplest to the most unnecessarily difficult of classes. Try everything you can to make this class work, and don't give up :) But in the end, if something truly isn't working for you, there's no shame in seeing if you can switch to a different class that's better suited to you. And remember, when in doubt, color code the crap out of everything!

Alicia Renee
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Alicia Renee is a senior in high school who wants to create in any way she can. She's highly active in the political and social justice community. Alicia likes to spend her time learning, writing, sewing, crafting, editing (photos, videos, essays, anything) and being around the people she loves.