I was barely passing during primary school for a few reasons.
With most subjects, I would be able to grasp the ideas behind them. But not for all. If the teacher said, “today we’re doing grammar!” and I didn’t know what grammar was, I would panic. The problem with that, though, is that I felt nervous raising my hand to ask questions regarding what we were studying.
The girls around me would laugh, think I’m a dork for trying to be studious. They often labelled me as ‘too smart’- using the term against me, as an insult. That instantly made me feel out of place and I didn’t want that reputation, so I held back from being the best I could be.
I was distracted, for the most part. I wasn’t focusing as much as I should have because of the fact that I cared a lot about my friendships and what people thought of me. Always running at the back of my mind, I thought: “if I do this, I’ll be more popular”.
Unfortunately, it was a childish mindset and I admit I fell victim to it.
And so, from Year 3 to Year 7 I felt like an outsider.
As a kid, I viewed my mum as this serious figure who only wanted A’s and 100%s. So, I barely talked to her about the pressuring feelings I had at school because I didn’t feel comfortable with how she would react.
But when I went to Chalkwall at the end of Year 3, I had Ms Kellie.
Kellie had quite a kind atmosphere about her that I warmed up to instantly. She sat me down and ran through all the issues that I would have had and she made me open up. She told me that I shouldn’t care about what people think, and that I should just put my head down and study and to do my best. She also taught me how to ignore others if they say something to offend, distract, or hurt me.
It was then that I was able to understand that they were there to talk – but I was there to work.
Chalkwall allowed me to see a different point to school. I had begun to see that there was a benefit in what I was studying. They made explanations easier for me to understand with their thorough explanations.
And the majority of the people in my classroom at Chalkwall were really different to the people at school; they were serious about studying and determined to do well in their marks. Because of that change in environment, I was able to feel more comfortable expressing my interest in learning and actively trying to achieve.
I changed schools in Year 6 and so I feel like once I made that change from schools, I was able to be more comfortable and grow from my old attitude and stick to my studies.
When I began to feel more comfortable talking to Mum, she began to empathise with me a lot and gave me direct tips that were related to what was going on. She really put things into perspective and prioritised all the important things in my life, like my family and education.
Maths was a subject I’ve struggled with since Year 3 and I’m still trying to improve a lot but there has been growth for sure. In Year 5, though, I started to see improvements. I put my head down and focused. At that point, I obviously felt excluded but it was then I realised that the old mentality I had wasn’t going to benefit me at all.
Now I’m an A and B student in Maths. I was honestly very impressed with how things that turned out. It was hard to overcome the passing away of a close relative as a kid but over time this hardship became my strong point. While it was hard to overcome, such an adversity seemed to benefit me mentally and academically, because I wanted to make my relative proud of my growth.
A lot has changed. I’ve been able to push past what others think and gather a great group of new friends, fix my mindset as to what’s important and that is my studying.
When I started to notice that I was bouncing back from my problems, I surprised myself. I never dreamed of passing a maths exam properly. So when I started to do well, I began to push myself to go even further. And it’s been worth it.