With the new school year starting, I thought I'd write a blog post to talk about what I think are the most important things students should be doing to start the year off on the right foot. If anything, September is the time when students are either excited to come back or are dreading it, but being prepared will help any student have a successful year.
The most important thing a student should do before the year starts is to set a goal. I have all the students I work with look at their schedules and think about what classes they think will be the most challenging for them. They then create a goal for how they might want to do, say get a B in Geometry or a A- in English. They should try to make it a SMART goal too: it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Every week or two, they should come back to their goal and think about whether they've made any progress on it. And if they don't achieve their goal, at least they were working on something, and they can use it as a learning experience.
Organization is key for students today. For my students, I have them either keep an agenda book and fill it out every day or use some other tool that will work for them. iPhones and Droids each have notebook and reminder apps that students can use to keep track of assignments. Some students even take pictures of the assignments on the board, if it's okay with their teachers. Organization is hard for a lot of kids when they go through so many classes each day and are usually exhausted by the time they get home, but it counts for a lot in the end.
Finally, kids need to come into school with the right attitude. Last year was last year, and each year brings a new beginning and new opportunities to succeed. There are a lot of difficult classes students have to take in their school career, but there are also a lot of rewarding ones too that they will remember for years to come. I still remember my ninth-grade English teacher and how great a class it was now.
So good luck to all those starting school now!