Show up every day with all of your supplies. Whether you’ve forgotten a pen or need to return to your locker for your novel, if you don’t have everything you need, you are affecting your performance. Consider this: Mr. Dunning is teaching when suddenly you realize that you don’t have a pencil to write the notes. So that you won’t interrupt the class, you decide to ask one of your table mates to borrow a writing utensil. No harm done, right? Don’t be so sure. While you may not have distracted everyone in the room, the kids at your table just lost track of what the teacher was saying and may have missed important information. Of course, you could always ask to go to your locker, but what happens when you’re gone? Obviously, class continues. Even if you’re out of the room for only a few minutes, you will return to find yourself behind the rest of the group. As a result, either Mr. Dunning will have to stop and repeat what he has just said so that you are able to fully understand the activity, or you will need to disturb your table mates to find out what you missed. Neither situation seems fair to your teacher or your classmates. So what can you do to reduce forgotten supplies? To start, try not to throw things willy-nilly into your locker. Taking the extra few seconds to put books and binders away neatly will pay off the next time you visit your locker. How about arranging items on the shelves according to class? Keep the science binder with the science notebook and the novel you are reading with your English binder. Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of stocking and carrying your pencil case. That way, when your teacher asks you to take out your Sharpie, you are ready to go.
Be ready to do your best. We’ve all had days where we just don’t care. Whether we’re tired, bored, under the weather, or a little cranky, we don’t feel into it. There’s nothing unusual about those feelings; they happen to the best of us. It’s how you respond at times like those that can help you take your game to the next level. Students who are able to set aside what they want to do and focus on what they need to do, experience greater success in the classroom. Their performance is consistent and persistent and it results in greater progress.
Produce high-quality work — daily. Whatever the task may be, complete it neatly, carefully, and thoughtfully. To your teacher, it will be obvious that you take pride in everything you do. When you try to produce high-quality work, your handwriting is neat, your papers are not crumpled, and your projects do not appear as if they were done the night before class. Ask yourself: Am I proud of my work? Is it worthy of being put on public display? Could it be shown as an example to other students? If you can’t answer those questions with a resounding yes, it might be time to redouble your efforts.
Go beyond what the teacher expects. When you’re asked to write one half of a page, what’s stopping you from writing a whole one? If your project requires at least three examples from the text, why not use four? You have a presentation to give in history, did you memorize it without being asked? Your teacher will be impressed by your initiative, and more importantly, your learning will increase. Remember, if you’re only completing the minimum, you can’t expect to earn the maximum.
Set reasonable, sustainable goals. Maybe you’re interested and a little inspired. You’ve realized it’s time to step up your game. Start small. By setting goals that are realistic, you will lessen the chance of failure. Deciding that you will read 30 minutes every night, when you’re currently reading 30 minutes in a week, is a pretty tall order. Your chances of immediately implementing that change, and then sticking with it, are slim. Make incremental changes that allow you to experience regular success. Eventually, you could be reading 30 minutes a night, and your new habit will be more likely to stick.
It’s the beginning of another quarter and a fresh start. Are you truly content with your progress? Let’s face it, even the best of us can find ways to improve and reach the next level. I hope you will make the decision to grow. By reflecting and making changes, you can reach your full potential.
photo credit: Paxson Woelber via photopin cc