Classroom, Home, and Tests – Different Experiences, Different Skills

Yesterday, I helped a new student understand some of the difficulties she is experiencing, and I wanted to share this here.

The Classroom:

Studying in class is like taking a guided tour. If you trust your guide (the teacher,) you can follow into unknown territory, with an open mind. As you are exposed to new things you can ask questions, experience new activities, and be guided out of trouble if you get lost.

In the classroom, your responsibility is to follow the teacher’s guidance, and notice when you lose track. (You will lose track. We all do. The only question is when!)

Some examples from my students, of how they know they’re lost: 

  • I’m singing a song in my head
  • I’m thinking about my sandwich
  • It seems as if the teacher in talking in a foreign language
  • I’m beating myself up – “I’m a looser”, “I’ll never get it”
So this is the First Classroom Skill: Am I following the lesson, or am I in my head?

The Second Classroom Skill: When you see you are lost, bring yourself back. Take a breath. Now take another one. Look up, observe what is going on. Who is talking now? Take another breath. Maybe ask a question, so you can get help to reconnect.

The more time you spend following the guide, the more you’ll enjoy the tour, and the more chances you will have to be amazed at new things. Don’t worry; there will be time to explore by yourself later!

Home Study:

Here is your chance to explore! Look at your homework assignments, review your notes from class. What do I know, and what do I not know? You are not expected to know it all. Explore. 

"The teacher did something in class that is related to this question I'm looking at. What was that? What parts of it do I remember? Where do I have questions?"

You are at home. Hopefully this is a safe place for you, yet it can be scary and frustrating to explore the unknown. You can take chances here. Play with your skills. See what you can do, and what you can't do yet.

So here is what you need at home:

  • A study space where you are comfortable and can be relaxed as you explore. A desk is good, but if you concentrate better on your bed, on the carpet, or at the kitchen table - then that's your spot.
  • An ally, or allies. You are doing self study, but that doesn't mean you are alone. An ally is someone that is on your side. That can make you laugh when you are frustrated, or that will answer questions when you have them without making fun of you. A parent, a friend, a tutor, a teacher. Choose wisely who you go to for help.
  • Good resources. When you don't know something, you may be able to find an answer in a dictionary, or a math web site.


Take a deep breath. And another one. :-)  You are walking into the unknown, and it's likely that you feel less safe than in a regular lesson or at home. So here is the First Testing Skill you'll want to develop: Take a breath, look around, gather observations. Look at your pencil. Can you see details, or is your vision blurred? If it is blurred, take another deep relaxed breath. Look again. When your breathing is relaxed and you can see details, now is the time to look at the test!

Today you are not learning the material. You have what you know. Your responsibility here is dealing with the stress. If you take care of your breathing, you will have access to your knowledge. You will surprise yourself!

These 3 areas of study are different in character. When you know it, you can navigate them with more confidence.

Enjoy your explorations!


*** Special thanks to Sifu Ed from The Fire Mountain School, who taught me the Conscious Fighting skills I draw on in my teaching.




Avital S.

Patient tutor, for all ages, helps when your learning is blocked

1000+ hours
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