All students will achieve their maximum potential by becoming responsible, productive citizens and life-long learners.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Defining, Acting, and Understanding Bullying

While schools value (or should) value the emotional and physical well-being of their students above all else, bullying continues to be a pervasive problem in todays’ educational institutions.  This stems from two main components; a lack of understanding and communication between parents, schools, and students.  Clearly a topic as important, large and complicated as this cannot be fully covered here, but what can be given is an overview along with some resources to help increase the prevention of bullying.

Formal Definition
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
·         An Imbalance of Power: This occurs when an individual uses their power (physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity to control or harm others.
·         Repetition: The behaviors happen more than once.

Bullying/harassment leaves scars that long outlast the act itself.

The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) located at http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/index.htm indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

Victims often report increased:
·         Depression and anxiety
·         sadness and loneliness

They lose interest in activities they used to enjoy and often experience health issues and decreased academic achievement.  Additionally, they are more likely to be absent or completely drop out of school.  There are also effects suffered by those who bully or even witness such incidents.  The aftermath can be the root cause of a host of anti-social behaviors. In fact, most school shootings in the 1990’s were perpetrated by students who were victims of bullying.

Some Questions to Ask Students Regarding…
·         What does “bullying” mean to you?
·         Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
·         What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
·         Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
·         Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?
·         Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
·         What can you do if bullying occurs?
·         What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
·         What can your school do to help stop bullying?

Communication is Key
Many times students will say (and they truly believe) that there is nothing adults can do to stop bullying.  The fact is parents, staff, and students themselves can play a significant role in preventing bullying through communication and action.  Parents and staff need to take time to check in with students to find out about their concerns and let them know any type of bullying or harassment is unacceptable.  We need to take the time to inform ourselves about what is going on in our students’ lives.  It can be as easy as a ten minute conversation.  A few examples:
·         Meet or contact teachers and counselors
·         Read school newsletters and the school website
·         Go to school events
·         Listen to students beyond academics
·         Be aware of hallway behaviors
·         Help kids take part in activities
·         Report issues you see occur in school.
·         Talk about your concerns.
·         Promote a respectful environment.  You would want someone to help you.
·         Encourage students to do what they love and be who they are regardless of others opinions.
·         Model how to treat each other with kindness and respect.

In the end, it is everyone’s responsibility if bullying is to be prevented and talking about it directly is one important step.  Another is taking action against it.  We all need to remember that students watch how adults interact, manage stress, and treat others.  They learn from us.  Make sure the lesson they are receiving is one of maturity, respect, and responsibility.

Please take the time to investigate the following resources for a comprehensive amount of information concerning this very important topic.  After all, what could possibly be more important than taking care of our students’ physical, social, and emotional needs in the best possible manner to ensure they grow into healthy, happy adults?

Sources for this post:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Maximizing Face to Face Time with Your Student’s Teachers

My original intent of this blog was to give some pointers to parents concerning parent –teacher conferences.  Upon reflection, these are good pointers for any meeting throughout the year.  It is imperative to be as informed as possible in our students’ education if we are to ensure their success.  Contrary to popular opinion (or action), the need for this information grows as students grow older.  Rather than dwindling, at open houses and parent conference nights, high school parent attendance should grow.  Often, many teachers can be overheard commenting that they wished as many parents of struggling students showed up as those achieving high grades.  This is the main reason for this post.   Many times, parents (especially those who struggled in or didn't like school themselves) feel as if conferences with teachers are unclear, confrontational, uncomfortable, or embarrassing.  Therefore, why not avoid the whole experience?  Unfortunately, that only causes a larger problem to develop.

Many of us know that teachers are busy and it is because of this that any time spent meeting with them is valuable and should not be wasted through a lack of an agenda, misunderstanding of issues to be covered, or un-asked/answered questions.  There are many parents waiting to hear information from a handful of teachers regarding their students.  So how does a parent get the most out of this limited time?  What follows is a compilation of ideas and tips concerning preparing for a conference, getting the most out of your time spent, and effective ways to follow up after the conference has ended.

Preparation is important as the conference itself if it is expected to be productive.  Parents should:
·      Speak with your students about how they are doing in school and why.  Ask what subjects/teachers they like/dislike and why.  Compare this to their grades and completed work.
·      Find out if there are any issues your student would like to speak with the teacher about.
·      Ask if students are welcome to attend the conference and decide if it is a good opportunity to teach self-advocacy or responsibility for learning.
·      Make a list of questions to address your areas of concern.

During the Conference
·      Keep an open mind.  Do not start the conference with a specific agenda.  Listen to the teacher’s assessment of your student’s performance.  It may begin to clear up any misconceptions and avoid a negative, confrontational experience.
·      Ask the important questions first in case time runs out. If major concerns are addressed, minor ones may start to work themselves to a resolution. Remember to ask about the frequency and effectiveness of services if your student receives special services.
·      Address problems in a respectful, professional manner.  Conferences are a good time to discuss and make a plan to solve any difficulties your student may be having at school.  Remember to focus on solutions rather than placing blame.  Be sure to not just ask for examples, but also how the problems are being addressed.  This will help you identify strategies that may or may not work.
·       Develop a plan to move forward.  This may include steps that both the parent and teacher can take to avoid future problems or successfully address them when they occur. Make sure that everything is clear and understood by both the teacher and parent.  Decide how best to stay in touch to monitor your students’ progress.
·       End the conference by reviewing everything that was discussed and reviewing the agreed upon plan.

Post Conference
·      Students only value education as something that requires effort and commitment when they see it modeled by parents and teachers.
·      Discuss the conference with your student.  Be direct about what needs to occur for them to improve by helping the student realize it is ultimately their responsibility.

Remember that the desired outcome of a conference should be simplified to a few answers to the following basic questions:

1.      Is my student giving his or her best effort?
·     Grades do not always give an accurate picture of ability.  Teachers are able to tell if a student is working to their potential and how the parent can support this at home.
2.      What can my student do that he or she is not already doing?
·      All students can improve.  It is important that they have a clear understanding of how and where.  It could be as simple as completing extra credit or involved as picking up an internship.
·      It is important to realize that students’ ability to perform at their highest possible level is ultimately their responsibility.
3.      What can I do that I am not already doing?
·      Parents may not realize that they are able to assist the teacher in being more effective.  By helping ensure that students take ownership of their education, parents create more engaged students who are motivated to learn.
4.      How can we all work together to ensure my students’ success?
·      There is often a lack of communication and understanding between parents and teachers concerning what is being done at home and in school.  Conferences are a great opportunity for everyone to get on the same page – student success.

Remember that parent–teacher conferences are a chance for you to ask questions about your child's progress and how you, the teacher and you student can work together as a team to ensure success.

Asking the right questions, keeping an open mind, and following through can help parents and teachers get the most out of conferences.
The Harvard Family Research Project has an acronym that provides a great framework to follow for an effective conference:

Best intentions assumed
Emphasis on learning
Home–school collaboration
Examples and evidence
Active listening
Respect for all
Dedication to follow-up

Sources consulted for this post:
Harvard Family Research Project. (2010). Parent-teacher conference tip sheets. Family involvement network of educators (FINE) newsletter, 2(3), Retrieved from http://www.hfrp.org/var/hfrp/storage/fckeditor/File/FI-ConferenceTipSheet-111810.pdf
National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). (2012, October 09). Making parent-teacher conferences work for your child. Retrieved from http://www.pta.org/2532.htm
Sheehy, K. (2012, November 05). What high school teachers wish parents asked at conferences. U.S. news and world report, Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2012/11/05/what-high-school-teachers-wish-parents-asked-at-conferences?s_cid=rss:high-school-notes:what-high-school-teachers-wish-parents-asked-at-conferences

Friday, November 9, 2012

Texting Tweeting and Media: What is Happening to our Students Ability to Focus and Write?

Two recent studies show that there may be mounting evidence that social/entertainment media is hurting students’ attention span and ability to write because of heavy stimulation and repeated rapid shifts in attention (Postal, 2012; Richtel, 2012); leading to an average attention span that has dropped from 12 to 5 minutes over the past 10 years (Vidyarthi, 2011). 

While the sources consulted for this post admit that there have been no conclusive, long term studies completed that point to a permanent detrimental effect, they offer some direction in addressing students every increasing dependency on electronics.  It appears that how much of a problem exists depends upon a person’s (employer, teacher, student, or parent) perspective and what role they see education playing.

·      Dr. Christakis finds that a heavy use of technology “makes reality by comparison uninteresting” (2012 p. 1).
·       “Seeking out high-quality media content for young people and setting limits on how much time is spent with media are two good places to start addressing all of these issues” (Postal, 2012 p. 1).
·      Students asked to give up media for 24 hours had the following symptoms (Vidyarthi, 2011):
o   Phantom phone vibrations
o   Reaching for a phone that isn’t there
o   Fidgeting and restlessness
·      45% of 430 employers are improving employees grammar and other skills through training programs while others are not hiring individuals unless they pass spelling and grammar tests (Shellenbarger, 2012).


Who is looking at this issue depends on whether it is seen as a problem.  Parents, employers, and teachers alike are able to give anecdotal testimony to the fact that students are more often distracted, tuned out to society around them, and addicted to their electronics.  Conversely, some of those same individuals admit to the possibility of those same students multi-tasking, focused, and yes, addicted to their electronics.  Students, appear to not be too caught up in the argument as long as they get to keep their electronics. No matter how they are using the technology, students must be taught responsibility through instruction and modeling.  A good place to start is by addressing the impact on a student’s ability to focus for long periods of time.

Attention Span

Classroom teachers now face a population that, for the most part is accustomed to receiving news in 140 character bites and watching videos that only last 10 minutes (Vidyarthy, 2011).  Many teachers believe that while this ever increasing use of media has increased students’ ability to find information quickly and multi-task more effectively, it has also hurt their attention span and worsened their writing skills (Postal, 2012).  In addition, many teachers who were interviewed feel as if they are working harder to hold students attention or as 14 year veteran Hope Molina Porter says, “I’m an entertainer.  I have to do a song and dance to capture their attention” (Richtel, 2012 p. 1).  A person does not have to speak to too many teachers to hear that more and more students seem to be more forgetful or want things done for them.  This observation bolsters the idea that a growing number of teachers are starting to question if they are part of the problem for adjusting their lessons to accommodate students’ inability to focus.

The fact is that every time we start a new task our brain has to reorient itself and the internet and media is designed to distract by keeping us moving from task to task.  A few interesting findings from these studies that attest to this:

·    The average office worker checks his email inbox nearly once every 1.5 minutes.
·    700 billion minutes are spent on Facebook every month.
·    500,000 people join Twitter every day.
·    Social media:
o   Causes a release (and spike in active participants) of Oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates trust and empathy.
o   Causes sufficient, sudden changes in environment to trigger releases of adrenaline.
o   Tends to drop the level of stress hormones when being used.


Being saturated with media seems to have a mixed effect on students’ education.  The largest negative is that students are now appearing to lose the ability to fight through tough academic problems when an easy answer eludes them (Richtel, 2012).  This is due to the familiarity of basic answers being "one click" away.  An unfortunate by-product of this is what seems to be a decline in critical thinking skills, the depth and analysis of their written work writing skills, and the ability to communicate face to face.  Conversely, some educators believe that being as proficient with media as many students are helps them be more self-sufficient researchers.  There was also a belief that students today are just as capable of those higher level thinking skills once they are engaged.  The problem is that often engagement is confused with entertainment.


We need to decide and act.  Is education about entertaining or learning?  Where does the difference lie between engaged and entertained?  One issue is certain.  Times have changed when it comes to technology and access to information.  Therefore, schools need to work with parents and students by educating each other on the good uses of technology. Teachers need to educate concerning how technology can assist and deepen learning.  Parents need to understand that what is done at home affects the end result in school and students; well, students can have their electronic devices, but they need to remember something.  They are students and need to continue learning by being attentive, responsible, and understanding that answers without meaning are as useless as…no internet and a single rotary phone (with a cord) on a wall in the kitchen.  In short, we all need to take stock of how often, where, and when we are attached to media and use it to its full potential rather than its entertainment value alone.

Sources Cited:

Postal, L. (2012, November 2). Entertainment media hurts students attention span, writing skills, teachers say in new survey . Orlando Sentinnel. Retrieved from http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_education_edblog/2012/11/entertainment-media-hurts-students-attention-span-writing-skills-teachers-say-in-new-survey.html

Richtel, M. (2012, November 1). Technology changing how students learn, teachers say. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/education/technology-is-changing-how-students-learn-teachers-say.html?pagewanted=all

Shellenbarger, S. (2012, September). Career advice for you and i and me. The wall street journal: Classroom edition, p. 14.

Vidyarthi, N. (2011, December 14). Attention spans have dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes — how social media is ruining our minds . Retrieved from http://socialtimes.com/attention-spans-have-dropped-from-12-minutes-to-5-seconds-how-social-media-is-ruining-our-minds-infographic_b86479

Monday, October 15, 2012

Home and School Collaboration Needed to Maximize Student Responsibility and Achievement

The results of a study conducted by three universities that looked at the influence of parents versus schools on academic success were recently released by Education Week.   The salient point that should be shared is that the study revealed how parental influence reigns supreme when it comes to academic achievement.  It arrived at this conclusion by comparing measures of "family social capital" and "school social capital."

As educators and parents, this study may be useful in a few ways.  By looking at the indicators used in the study and turning them into concrete objectives, all stakeholders may see a list of methods by which they are able to improve how they help students.

For example, parents may help students increase their achievement by:

·   checking their homework;
·   attending school meetings and events;
·   displaying trust in their student; and
·   discussing school programs, activities, and classes with their student.

Schools may create a more positive environment for learning by increasing:
·   student participation in extracurricular activities;
·   parental contact;
·   teacher morale; and
·   teacher response to individual student needs.

The level of conflict between teachers and administrators as well as an overall measure of school environment that measured delinquency, absenteeism, and violence was used as well.

While these areas are easy to discuss, the actual work behind them must be thoughtful, collaborative, and focused.  What is not addressed in the study is the underlying message in supportive households that education is good and a necessity, but something you do rather than something done to you.  In short,   Clearly what we do as schools and parents can always improve, but no matter our effort, students ultimately bear responsibility for their education.  Without it, students will not reach their full potential.

The bottom line:
·   Both the parents/guardians and schools need to be more involved and communicate.
·   Schools and parents/guardians must work together as a team rather than competing entities for education to have the greatest effect.
·   Students will achieve greater academic gains if both sides make an effort to support students while expecting them to take responsibility for their learning.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Evaluation, Common Core, and Responsibility

A few thoughts concerning student improvement and performance came to me as I was listening to a presentation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) concerning the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system.  Knowing that this new system measures teacher performance based on student progress is coupled with the issue of just how to measure that progress, I became curious as to what is both “in it for” and required of students throughout this process?  I found it difficult to juxtapose with the fact that it is being implemented concurrently with the Massachusetts State Common Core (MCSS). Surely, as schools are focusing on literacy and higher order thinking skills as they implement the Common Core, we all need to lay out a plan delineating not just how to measure what, but the supports needed by students to reach these expectations as they transition from the old to new curriculum

To fully disclose my position, I am currently writing my dissertation on the teaching and acquisition of thinking skills; specifically those required for the discipline of History.  Therefore, my main concern was how we support instructors in the teaching of essential, often discreet thinking skills when they are concerned about covering standards and being evaluated upon their progress in doing so.  Clearly there is plenty of responsibility to be shared.  Districts must support administrators, administrators must support teachers, parents must support students, and students must take responsibility.

The Foundation of Critical Thinking (2011) asserts that the most effective way to study and learn any subject is to practice what Gardner (2007) terms “disciplinary thinking.”  Furthermore they state that if students are to become “master students,” they need to practice the following list of behaviors:

·   “raise vital questions and problems within it…
·   gather and assess information…
·   come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions…
·   adopt the point of view of the discipline…
·   communicate effectively with others using the language of the discipline and that of educated public discourse
·   relate what one is learning in the subject to other subjects and to what is significant in human life” (Critical Thinking 2011, p. 1)

These behaviors are then supported by a comprehensive list of 18 ideas for students to internalize. This coupled with an understanding that all disciplines in school possess common intellectual structures (Paul and Elder 2001) will improve students’ ability to think.  In fact, the following statement made in Paul & Elder’s (2001) guide should be examined as we move forward in the consideration of new teacher evaluations and learning requirements.  “It’s [the guide] goal is to foster lifelong learning and the traditional ideal of a liberally educated mind: a mind that questions, probes, and masters a variety of forms of knowledge, through command of itself, intellectual perseverance, and the tools of learning.” (p. 1)

While I personally wholeheartedly support the ideas put forth by Dr. Paul and Dr. Elder (they are part of my dissertation), I cannot help but read that sentence and wonder how we, as educators, are supporting its realization.  By way of example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is now revamping the tool for teacher evaluation.  Teachers will now be evaluated based on the amount of progress as student achieves and what they are personally doing to affect its increase.  This is occurring at the same time schools across the state are scrambling to implement the Common Core that focuses on literacy and specific College and Career Readiness skills.  The problem you ask?

·   The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has given no clear direction as to how the progress teachers must produce is measured.
·   The Common Core Standards instruct teachers to focus on literacy and college and career readiness standards.
·   Teachers are still held to the expectations of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
·   While teachers struggle to improve their practice, less is being expected from students in the way of taking responsibility for their education.
·   There is a growing attempt to measure everything quantitatively, when most of the important growth is qualitative.

Does anyone else see a problem with not only holding all but the most important group responsible for students’ education, but also giving unclear dictates as to on what that education should be focused?

Yes, students should be taught and yes, there should be high expectations.

Yes, teachers must continue to improve and support students in their education. ..however, we all need to remember that for this all to be successful (however “this” is measured) students must be responsible for their own learning.

The quandary is this:
Teachers are being told they will be measured on the growth of students in areas that the Common Core is de-emphasizing.  Therefore they are expected to teach material that does not prepare students to produce the data that is being quantitatively measured to determine effectiveness.  So much of what students should be and are learning may only be assessed qualitatively through detailed narratives that explain the progression of students ability to think, problem solve, be creative, and act as productive citizens.

My opinion is this:
We (educators and parents alike) need to help our students learn to think by supporting their efforts and showing them the way.  We (educators and government) need to underscore the importance of qualitative data and its analysis when determining the effectiveness of teachers, programs and schools.  For years we have been measuring ourselves against other nations on assessments that compare apples to oranges.  This makes perfect political sense, but loses its luster when examining the ways in which it compromises student growth.  Yes we need to stay globally competitive to ensure a bright future for our students.  The irony is that in an effort to take the lead, we are eliminating the very aspects that put us there for so many years; the fostering of creativity, innovation, the ability to solve problems, and acting as respectful, responsible citizens.

Sources consulted for this post:

Gardner, H. (2007). Five minds for the future. Boston, Mass., Harvard Business School Press.
Paul , R., & Elder, L. (n.d.). How to study and learn (part one). Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/how-to-study-and-learn-part-one/513
Paul, R. & Elder, L. 2001, The Thinkers Guide to How to Study and Learn, Dillon Beach, CA

Studying and Learning with The Critical Thinking Community

While many of us in education continuously speak about critical thinking and 21st Century Skills, we often forget to explain what we are talking about.  Normally the first step in achieving a goal is making sure all the stakeholders both understand and agree with it.  In an effort to help students perform better, I thought I would share below some of the major points in what The Critical Thinking Community calls “18 Ideas for Becoming a Master Student.”  The full list may be found in an article at: http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/how-to-study-and-learn-part-one/513.

1.      Make sure you thoroughly understand the requirements of each class, how it will be taught and what will be expected of you.
a.      Seek to find the key concept of the course during the first couple of class meetings
2.      Become an active learner by:
a.      Asking questions to fill in the missing pieces of your learning
b.      Making connections to previous learning
c.       Relating content to issues, problems, and practical situations in your life
3.      Continually improve by:
a.      Frequently evaluating your listening, reading, writing, and thinking skills
b.      Practicing those studying and learning skills at which you are not good
c.       Trying to summarize, orally or in writing, the main points of the previous class meeting
d.      Frequently asking yourself: “Can I explain this to someone not in class?”
4.      Use writing as a way to learn by writing summaries in your own words of important points from the textbook or other reading material.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Opportunity for Teachers in Common Core

                                                                                                                                                                             Image Source: http://www.colve.org/

I came to a realization while having a conversation with a teacher concerning the future direction of teacher's roles in the classroom.  I found myself explaining that the Common Core was a positive step towards ensuring the value of history teachers.  I have come to this opinion as I mine through both past and present research concerning the teaching and learning of history.  Given what this research has to say concerning the study of history, I believe that history teachers now have the opportunity to step forward as leaders in the realm of literacy and preparing students for the recurring theme of active, responsible citizenship that is contained in the Common Core.

This opportunity lies in the new leeway given to the skill of the history teacher. While the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System largely ignored history as an important (worthy of being measured) discipline, the Common Core Standards shed light on its ability to submerge students in acts of analysis, synthesis, significance, and meaning making with complex readings that span cultures and centuries.  Munson (2011) emphasizes this by explaining that the requirement to teach research, writing, and communication skills “opens the door for extensive use of historical documents, speeches, biographies, and other works that are excellent vehicles for providing students with a deep and meaningful understanding of history and civics” (p. 1).  Simply put, the Common Core Standards do not illustrate how to teach, but rather the goal of that instruction (Martin, 2011).

Therefore, the Common Core opens the door for a possible increased amount of collaboration between historians and history teachers by advancing the subject beyond what many in the public view as a set of indisputable facts (Drake Brown, 2011) to one that requires true understanding.  This is attained through extensive reading and writing that focuses on the disciplines’ “habits of mind” (Drake Brown, 2011 p. 2) that are employed by practitioners and instructors alike.  This possible partnership holds the promise of what history teachers have wanted; the opportunity to prove the importance of their discipline through what Munson (2011) calls a revitalization of the most important history and civics content.

If taken as an opportunity, the Common Core Standards will assist history teachers by not just allowing, but encouraging a deeper investigation and creation of historical narratives.  Students would have the opportunity to corroborate sources, evaluate evidence, and assess texts (Drake Brown, 2011) through discussion and debate.  Because the Common Core Standards emphasize disciplinary reading and writing, knowledge about teaching history to diverse student populations is critical (Martin, 2011).  Because historical knowledge coupled with disciplinary thinking is crucial to increase historical understanding, content knowledge is needed. It comes down to the fact that the Common Core State Standards are now highlighting the basis of historical understanding; literacy.

This, if embraced and approached creatively, showcases the importance of not only history as a subject, but the skill of those who teach its understanding. History teachers, with proper preparation may stand poised to bring a once pushed aside discipline to the forefront once again.

Sources Cited

Drake Brown, S. (2011). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://teachinghistory.org/issues-and-research/roundtable-response/25351
Martin, D. (2011, November 18). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://teachinghistory.org/nhec-blog/25306
Munson, L. (2011). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://teachinghistory.org/issues-and-research/roundtable-response/25353

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Clint Page's Top 10 Skills for High-School Students

Here is a semi-complete explanation of Clint Page's Top 10 Skills for High-School Students.  It has been shortened for the purpose of this blog.  The list may be found in its entirety as an interactive site at: http://school.familyeducation.com/skill-builder/college-prep/37653.html

Whether you're a freshman or a senior, developing the following 10 skills will help you achieve success in school, in your chosen career, and in life.


·         There are just 24 hours in each day.
·         High-school students average 35 hours per week of class time.
·         Get your "free" time under control.
·         Use a daily planner.
·         Get the maximum out of each day.


·         Always be prepared for class, and attend classes regularly. No cutting!
·         Complete assignments thoroughly and in a timely manner.
·         Review your notes daily rather than cram for tests the night before.
·         Set aside quiet time each day for study — even if you don't have homework or a test the next day!


It's important to set goals, as long as they're attainable. Setting goals that are unreasonably high is a set-up — you'll be doomed to frustration and disappointment.


·         Listen to your teacher and stay focused.
·         If you don't understand something, ask questions! 


·         You can't write down everything.
·         Write down the important material
·         Go back over your notes
·         Check with the teacher for help on improving your note-taking.
·         Note-taking should be in a form that's most helpful to you. 


Teachers assign homework for a reason. While it may seem like "busywork" at times, it definitely has a purpose. Put your homework to good use. Remember, you'll only get out of it what you put into it!


·         Go over your notes each day while the lecture is still fresh in your mind.
·         Compare your notes with a classmate's notes.
·         Review to reinforce your learning and build towards your ultimate goal: MASTERY of the subject or skill.


·         Keep all your study materials (calculator, planner, books, notebooks, laptop, etc.) in one convenient location.


You need to be motivated to learn and work hard, whether or not you like a specific subject or teacher. Self-motivation can be extremely important when you aren't particularly excited about a class. If you must, view it as an obstacle you must overcome. Then, set your mind to it and do it — no excuses. Success is up to you!


You've started the course, now you need to complete it. Do the best — and get the most out of it — that you can! Your commitment will pay off in the end.