How to Maximize Student Success This School Year

Some young people know exactly what they want to be or do when they grow up. In so doing, they identify goals they may work towards for years. But many students can’t imagine life that far down the road. They have plenty of challenges in the here and now!

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Regardless of which category your students fall in, four do–able steps can help arrange order out of student chaos. You will note that each reinforces healthy self–discipline and constructive life habits. They collectively set up cumulative win–wins. They also provide opportunity for the school to partner with parents on obtainable goals.

The four steps could become an on–going class project. The immediate goal is to largely eliminate two common barriers to student success (not to mention teacher and parent frustration!): disorganization and unpreparedness. Here’s how:

Have each student:

  1. create a file system. This can be done with an inexpensive, portable file box and files from stores like Staples or Walmart. Students can identify pertinent labels (Cell Phone Info, ID Cards, Math Resources, Passwords, Pay Stubs, etc.).  Stress the pay–off of eliminating frantic hunts for important items needed ASAP.
  2. buy a calendar. They should hang it where it can be checked every morning and night. Important events, test dates, and so on should be penciled in as they become aware of them. Stress the pay–off of a readily–available visual reminder.
  3. take care of issues as they arise. Procrastination breeds anxiety and typically only creates more problems to fix! Stress the pay–off of healthy and timely problem resolution.
  4. keep their bed made and room picked up. The military makes this a priority for a reason. They know that this settles and organizes a person. Stress the pay–off that this habit grows self–discipline. That then positively shapes other future behaviors. Done consistently, such simple habits foster the foundation for accomplishment and success.

How do you help disorganized students? Communicate that disorganization is an acquired art. But so is organization. Encourage them to simply “eat the elephant a bite at a time.” Have them start with one small area––their book bag, school locker or their bedroom closet. Once done, they can move on to the next area.  Their goal is to organize their personal world and all that’s in it. This makes it work for them––not against them.

Why? Because the more they accomplish, the more they will view themselves as capable. That breeds the self–confidence required to seek out and satisfy the new challenges that will expand their worlds. As a result, foundational life–skills are cultivated and matured while still within the familiar safety nets of home and school. That ultimately translates into improved living. What a gift (a.k.a. ministry) contributed by the adults investing in their young lives!

For the students:

  1. Discuss practical ways these steps can help them during this new school year.
  2. Have them recall how this system could have avoided a problem last year. (Pain is a great motivator for change!)
  3. Have each student draft a “project management” plan to organize their personal “world.” What specific tasks will they plan for each day during their allocated timeframe (perhaps a week or two)? Have them define what constitutes on–going success in this area.

How have you helped your students maximize their success in your class or school?  

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Cynthia Hill is a former small business owner/operator and homeschooling parent. Since moving professionally into the public policy arena, she has advised on policy matters in all 50 state legislatures, at the federal level and on cases headed to the Supreme Court. She has consulted for pro-family organizations and start-ups from numerous foreign countries. Cynthia regularly advises and collaborates with national and state leaders regarding organizational and legislative strategic planning and policy issues in the news.

Previously, Cynthia served as Senior Director of State and Local Affairs at the Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C. There, she was primary liaison to a nationwide network of state Family Policy Councils and similarly-minded entities. Prior to her work at FRC, Cynthia was a researcher and lobbyist in the Virginia General Assembly for the Family Foundation of Virginia. She later accepted the position of Vice-President of Development.

Cynthia earned undergraduate degrees in Religion and Human Services and a Masters in (Social and Domestic) Public Policy. She has authored and taught a variety of curricula in volunteer capacities and online at the collegiate level. Her most recent is entitled Open Doors, a multi–year, single text curriculum for middle through high schoolers who want to develop personal opportunities for jobs, scholarships and volunteer and leadership positions. She is currently finalizing a book about family violence in America entitled Voiceless.

Cynthia is also founder of Common Sense, an education and policy model designed to inform and equip “grassroots” citizens, policy novices and public officials about issues relating to the protection and preservation of faith, family, fiscal responsibility and freedom via a Judeo-Christian worldview.