Getting Help From Parents and Teachers [book excerpt]

Let’s face it: in the beginning, we may be filled with enthusiasm and determined to succeed. But as the days and weeks go by, our old tendencies begin to reassert themselves.

Do it the easy way. 

Be a little bit lazy. 

Take a break. 

Do it […]

The Education Genie [book excerpt]

Imagine . . .

It’s your summer holiday, and you’re walking along a beautiful, deserted beach. The wet sand oozes between your toes. The salt breeze blows in your hair. The seabirds run up and down as the waves roll in, then recede.

In the water up ahead, a strange shape catches your eye. […]

Have a problem? Tell your teacher! [book excerpt]

Not every teacher will be sympathetic every time. But most will listen sympathetically if you speak with them—in advance, or as soon as you know—and explain the situation. Students who communicate with their teachers usually get the benefit of the doubt. If you have trouble talking with a particular teacher, find another teacher or […]

Book excerpt: “Have a question? Ask your teacher!”

Good students ask questions.

Are you shy? Find a way to ask questions. Sometimes after class or after school is best. Sometimes a note to the teacher works well. Learn to tell when it’s the wrong moment to ask a question, and ask it later. But never leave a question unasked!

Many students are […]

Setting Goals: The Path to Improvement (book excerpt)

Don’t try to solve all your problems at once. Pick just one area that needs improvement, and work on it until you’ve reached your goal. To turn your achievement into a new habit, repeat the behaviour you are practicing until it becomes automatic.

Set a realistic goal. Decide in advance what you need to […]

Book excerpt: Take responsibility for your mistakes

Apologize, fix it, and move on.

What should you say if you’re caught doing something wrong? Apologize, first. Then, if you can do anything to repair the damage, do it.

All of us make mistakes. The question is, how do we respond to them? If we try to weasel out of trouble, point the […]

Back-to-school reminders & ideas

First: read every day!

Second: use a homework diary in every class!

And here’s a good list of online tools for students. It’s intended for university students but most of the items listed are equally useful for high school students.

Where do you need to improve?

From Chapter 2 of Good Habits, Good Students:

Here’s a good way to find out where you need the most improvement: check your report card. Don’t just look at the grades, though. Check the comments your teachers write about each subject.

Far too often when students receive report cards, they check their marks and then stop reading. However, if your reports include comments from each teacher, these can be more useful than the grades when it comes to figuring out what you need to do to improve.

Not all comments by teachers are useful in this way. Some consist mostly of a standard description of what the class has studied in the previous term. There may be only a brief comment on your own work, and sometimes such comments emphasize what is most positive—which is nice, but not helpful if you’re trying to identify your weaknesses.

Sometimes, too, teachers’ comments are written in a kind of secret code I call “report-speak”. “George has a good understanding of blah blah blah”, you read. Sounds good. Actually, however, a “good” understanding may be the third– or fourth–best level, below other possibilities like “excellent” and “very good”. Once you realize this, “good understanding” doesn’t sound so good anymore.

Because comments on reports don’t always include the information you’re looking for, and because they are sometimes written in report-speak, any attempt to use your report card to discover where you most need to improve must include this vital step: asking your teachers, in person.

Before you speak with them, however, do a bit of preparatory work. Continue reading Where do you need to improve?

Practice good exam-taking strategies [book excerpt]

It’s that time: end-of-year exams have either started already or will shortly. This excerpt from Good Habits, Good Students may help.

Getting Started Read the instructions and skim all the questions of the whole exam before answering any questions. Be sure no pages are missing from the exam booklet. Be sure whether you […]

Arrive on time (book excerpt)

It’s a matter of respect.

In some schools, arriving late to class is viewed seriously, with strict rules, late slips, detentions, and other penalties for those who are tardy too often. In other schools, these issues don’t seem so important. Most students attend 6–8 classes each day, along with occasional assemblies, meetings, rehearsals, and […]