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School Survival Toolkit

12 Aug 2020 - YouthY We Are Here

The Y NSW Forward Thinking- Social Impact Project is an Online Leadership Program for young people across New South Wales.

Supported by NSW Government's Youth Opportunities Grant, the project has been working with over 50 young people, providing training in leadership and personal development.

The following School Survival Toolkit are resources for young people and educators to support the mental health and wellbeing of their students and peers.


Advice from year 12, class of 2020.

We’ve compiled some advice straight from the mouths of current HSC students around getting through school happily and healthily.

  • You can’t study 24/7, take serious breaks that you don’t feel guilty for
  • There is help around you, you just need to ask for it (social, academic, etc.)
  • Don’t over commit yourself, but keep doing the things you love
  • Keep things in perspective: this year isn’t going to go as you have it planned out, you’ll encounter obstacles but remind yourself of their scale
  • Bite the bullet and study your least favourite subject first
  • Everyone organises themselves differently, don’t compare your planner to someone else's virtual diary
  • A really aesthetic diary does not equate to organisation
  • Your health is number 1! No point in having a good ATAR if you’re not healthy enough to celebrate it
  • Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!
  • You know you! While some people might be able to go to an 18th the night before their English exam, it’s okay if you can’t! You need to know yourself.
  • Look out for your mates!
  • Don’t spend each and every arvo studying, your health is more important than anything and remember there are so many pathways to get where you want
  • To decide what you want from your final year as you go in so that you don’t overwork when it's unnecessary or can ouch to get your intense goal! The HSC means different thing for different people, so know what YOU need from it
  • Be consistent with your studies throughout the year
  • Study, Study, STUDY! get into a good study routine and keep up with assignments ☺
  • Be disciplined but also don’t be too hard on yourself. Always start assessments as soon as they are given and finish them with at least three days in advance. Study/revise in the Christmas holidays before Term 1. Summarise notes as you go. Always annotate your own notes from past assessments or past HSC papers. Hope this helps!
  • Don’t stuff around: seek as much help as you can. Make notes after each lesson and practice as much as you can. Study helps heaps!
  • Stay focused and motivated
  • Actually TRY!
  • Your effort will equal the results you want.

Public Speaking

by Connor Burke

Who do we picture when we think of talented public speakers? John F. Kennedy? Barack Obama? Julia Gillard?

While these are extreme examples - they all have something in common with each other and you. They had to learn and practice to become talented public speakers.

Yes, it’s true, public speaking is not just a skill you are born with. It is more than just confidence. At the most basic level, good public speaking comes down to three core things which are:

  1. Preparation.
  2. Style.
  3. Confidence.

Preparation as the first stage of public speaking can make or break your speech almost straight away if you go about it the wrong way or worse still, do not even go about it at all.

Truthfully, the type of preparation you require depends on you, some people prefer having their whole speech or presentation written while others might prefer dot points to improvise off. But, you should still at the very least know your content.

Still, the most important aspect of research is needed for any type of public speech of speaker and that is KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE.

Knowing your audience is the difference between a speech that makes people laugh, keeps them interested, and allows them to learn something new and an awkward speech which only succeeds in creating a sense of boredom.

For example, student leaders taking on the role of facilitating this wellbeing presentation for their peers should research (if they don’t know already) what has happened in their cohort’s past - What would make them laugh? A short anecdote put into a speech can work wonders.

But even outside of that, anecdotes aren’t necessary, but it is important to adopt an appropriate tone - facilitating a student presentation can be more casual with humour but a presentation for teachers? More formal.

So, what is the takeaway from preparation as part of public speaking? In essence, prepare a speech in what way works for you (while still knowing your content) but more importantly, know your audience.

Preparation flows into the next important part of public speaking and that is style. Style involves this appropriate tone that I mentioned early but also involves how you present yourself.

Public speaking usually involves elocution which is to say clear and expressive speech that ensures that the speaker is not only understood but is easy to follow with. Part of this is, of course, raising your voice but it also involves making your sentences flow and not just to stop or trail off.

The best method for practicing elocution is to record yourself presenting your speech or presentation and try to follow yourself as you speak. Or even better, try presenting it in front of a friend or family member to iron out any parts that seem confusing or artificial.

Style might not be as important as content or preparation, but it is still essential in ensuring that your presentation is appropriate, clear, and enjoyable to experience as an audience member.

Finally, confidence is another aspect of public speaking that many mistakenly believe as a personality trait you are born with instead of what it truly is, a learnable skill.

The key to confidence during public speaking is found in the preparation phase where if you have your content known to a tee then it's much easier to be confident in communicating it to others. Know what you are trying to say.

Beyond just knowing your content, there are a few tricks I have picked up myself from my time as a school captain. A little technique I have found is to plant your feet - imagine as if an invisible force is keeping you upright, back straight, and preventing you from losing control. Just a little mental trick but it does help.

Lastly, positive visualisation is a more powerful tool than you might realise - this is the method of visualising your goals and desired outcome from your work. By imagining this, you on a deeper level realise that it is entirely within the scope of your abilities to reach this outcome. For me, this has always inspired greater confidence within myself.

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