Tag Archives: students

High school students getting smarter, or high schools getting easier?

Or just another case of grade inflation?

Bad news from the National Assessment of Educational Progress: as of 2009, a majority of high school students scored “basic” or “below basic” in reading and math skills.*

(*Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for not using “progress report” in its article or headline; here for the rest who fell into that trap.)

Hmmm: in the early Nineties, 74% of  high school students graduated. These days, it’s 81%. Clearly, the additional 7% of graduates aren’t driving those proficiency scores higher.

The report also informs us that based on SAT scores, only 43% of high school students are prepared for college.  Whether or not that number has been extrapolated to the entire graduating population is unclear. If not, the prepared-for-college students represent 43% of the only some 45% who take the SAT (as of 2007).

All of this means… Continue reading

Scaffolding students out of procrastination: teacher interview with Mike Cahir

Scaffolding students out of procrastination: teacher interview with Mike Cahir

Student Success Podcast No. 16
Feb. 10, 2014, recorded Feb 8, 2014

Today’s Guest: Mike Cahir, Teacher and Department Chair, English Department, Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, DC

In this interview, Mike rejoins us to discuss procrastination from the point of view of a high school teacher. I ask him about his take on procrastination, and then I review some of the ideas that we are learning from Dr. Pychyl of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University. Mike processes this new information through delivers his own experiences and offers ideas and advice for both students and teachers. Continue reading

Unpuzzling Procrastination: student Interview with Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl

ProcrastinationPuzzle_3bProcrastination: Interview with high school students and Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl

Student Success Podcast No. 15
Jan. 30,  2014, recorded Jan 28, 2014

Today’s Guest: Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., and Sean, Sena, and Matthew, high school students

Dr. Pychyl, whom we agree to call Tim now, discusses the personal experiences with and possible solutions for three high school students, Sean, Sena, and Matthew. These students bravely discuss their struggles with workflow problems and strategies they could use to overcome it.

In this interview, Tim shows his deep compassion for students and concern for their success. The students engage his ideas thoughtfully, and we look forward to hearing back from them soon on how they are progressing.

Please see more from Dr. Pychyl at the Resources links below. Continue reading

What do teachers really want?

apple-for-teacher_msclipartBribery?

Maybe, but flattery will work better. Seriously.

The highest and most effective form of teacher flattery is asking a teacher for help. The next highest is actually doing your work. You meet teacher expectations, you get an A. Easy enough.

Well, let’s start from there, anyway.  So what do teachers really want? And how can the student figure that out? Continue reading

online tutoring

“Roam schooling” & online tutoring: learning without barriers?

globe_learningIs online tutoring & digital learning really going to work?

Fluff or substance? Revolution or fad? Where is online tutoring and digital learning going to take us?

When I was in K-12 school in the 1970s, mostly, education was being turned over. The students had no idea, as it was just happening to us. But what is education today was largely defined by the research, theories, experiments, and, mostly, fads of that period. Continue reading

Math success: believe you can achieve with Okera Hawkins

Math success: believe you can achieve with Okera Hawkins

Student Success Podcast No. 9, Nov. 29, 2013

Today’s Guest: Okera Hawkins

Co-founder of The A+ Club, Okera Hawkins, discusses what it takes to succeed in high school math. If there’ any single thing, Okera tells us, it is “confidence.” Getting there is a process — but it is a process that every student can engage and master. But they have to want to. Okera leads us through the pieces of success in math, including organization, asking questions, and math literacy.  Please enjoy this excellent and important interview. Continue reading

Teachers are people, too (sort of) & how you should take advantage of it

toaster_ms-clipart

  • My teacher is a toaster?

Heh, students, here’s a little inside information you should know: teachers are people, too. Shocking, I know. But true.

When my daughter was in my school, I’d bring her along to the watering hole we teachers escaped to on Fridays. She’d sit at a nearby table and enjoy bar food and a soda. After a few weeks she started inviting friends from school to sit with her, which seemed fine — until I learned that what she was doing was bringing her friends to listen to us do what teachers do on a Friday: complain about our students.  “Oh my God,” my daughter told me, “I didn’t realize that teachers have a life!”

Yep, and like you, they complain a lot. Make that all the time.

So, students, what’s in it for you?

Your teachers are actually more than a toaster that spits out lectures, homework, and grades. If they were machines, we’d could sure use better engineers.  Actually, thank God they’re not all the same model.

Instead, we’ve got a different personality, a different mood, and a different perspective in every classroom. Some we like, some we don’t, some are good, some not so much. All of them, however, set our grades, so we’d better be careful about who we’re blaming for what. We hear it all the time, “That teacher is soooo boring!” You know the routine, and you also know you can’t change classes just because you don’t like the teacher.

You can blame the teacher all day long, but it’s still up to you to do the work, figure out what the teacher wants, and do well on the tests. The best students can do all that and still hate the teacher. Annoying, yes, but a lot more productive than to do poorly because you don’t like the teacher.

But we can do a few simple, little things, meanwhile.

Salesmanship

If the purpose of the teacher is to give you a grade, and your not getting the grade you want, then, truly, it’s up to you and not the teacher. So what can you do?

A first step is to get the teacher on your side. You do it with simple, easy salesmanship.  Your teacher is your education provider, and your job is to get the highest grade possible out of each teacher. If what you’re doing is not working out, then let’s figure out a couple easy strategies to get that teacher on your side:

  • Smile and say “good morning” on your way in to the classroom. Can’t hurt. And maybe that will change your teacher’s vision of you from an unconcerned or detached underperformer to someone who not only needs but wants help. Suddenly, your teacher is seeing you as an individual, not as a malfunctioning machine
  • Ask a question or two. You may not feel up to it in front of class, but you can always ask a question before or after class, or write it on a paper or send an email later on. Your job is to make your teacher think of you outside of your grades and to worry about you as a person and not as a student. You will be amazed by how your teacher will suddenly be concerned for you if you ask for help.
  • Seek out your teacher before or after school. No need to suck up, but just by showing up for extra help — and not the last week of the quarter — your teacher is now seeing you as someone he or she can help, which means your teacher will now care about you more.

These are simple human interactions. The best salesperson doesn’t care who or what the client is, and just focuses on the sale. Your sale is your grade. Focus on it. Worry about it, not your teacher. Your best sales tool is communication. You will get out of your relationship with your teacher exactly what you put into it. The more you become a partner to the classroom, the more likely your teacher will perceive you as a partner to him or herself personally. Then you got ’em.

Teachers are people, too (sort of)

As with any relationship, honesty, kindness, and care will work with these fellow human beings we call teachers. Ultimately, teachers have a job to do, and it will guide their decisions and grades more than anything else. But if you can perceive them as individuals who are trying to do their best, but who have flaws and ticks and their own ways of being and doing things, maybe you will open up a new opportunity for yourself.

Think of how you are with those teachers you like and respect, and how beneficial that relationship can be for you. Then, maybe you can do that with the rest of them, and get similar, positive results.

– Michael

The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC, based in Arlington, VA, is dedicated to helping students across the U.S.A. meet their goals and find the academic success the want and deserve. Contact us here or call now  to (703) 271-5334 to see how we can help.

Goal Setting by Nick Goodall

Scoring Soccer Goal

We humans are goal-oriented creatures

– we work best when we have a target, something to aim for. Despite that, the majority of people don’t have clearly defined goals, and the majority of people aren’t achieving what they want, either. Goals are what can set you apart – in your studies and in your life – so taking the time to set, stick to and celebrate them is beyond profitable.

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” – Fitzhugh Dodson

Taking the time to map and work out the following three phases is something which can excel you on your journey. A*’s become that much easier, as does school, simply by being clear about what you want and then taking the time to get there.

Create

The first step is to create them. Easy to do, easy not to do. I wrote a comprehensive Guide to Goal Setting, but here I’ll outline a few key principles:

  • Your goals. It’s important to aim for what you want to achieve, not what someone else wants. Your goals should inspire and motivate you to take action in order to make them a reality.
  • Specific goals. The clearer you are, the clearer the target, and that makes for straightforward achievement. Try to include numbers, such as a certain mark on your next test.
  • Time-bound goals. The all important question: when? To quote C. Northcote Parkinson: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words – the more time you have, the longer it’ll take to achieve your goal. Push yourself!

Just creating goals will make you part of an elite few, so congratulations if you’ve come that far. However, this is just the beginning, and coming up is the most important phase:

Progress

This is the critical part – progress. Without it you’re but a sitting duck, looking at your target without moving towards it.

Saying it’s the most important doesn’t mean it’s the most boring and effort-intensive, because if you’ve set some inspiring goals – this will be a walk in the park. In fact, being productive – progressing – is a fundamental key to lifelong fulfillment. If you don’t produce, you won’t be happy, so taking the time to produce what you want is well worth your while. There will be ups and downs, but the long-term satisfaction is better than any quick-fix you may find.

Do this for long enough and you can move onto phase 3:

Achieve (and Celebrate)

This, contrary to belief, is not the most rewarding part. The most enjoyment is to be found in phase 2 – progressing, but here you can relax (for a short while) and celebrate your achievement!

It’s important to not linger too long, for you’ll get bored pretty quickly, but it’s a good idea to celebrate the things you’ve done. People often sell themselves short of what they’ve accomplished, but whatever goal you’ve achieved – it’s a great accomplishment.

Repeat

Thought it was over? Well, almost – just repeat the first 3 phases. Once you’ve celebrated, you can go back to the drawing board and dream up some new goals to inspire you yet again!

If goal setting is something you’ll stick to (for life, preferably), I can guarantee the astronomical rewards. Whatever your goal – straight A*’s, make a million or run an ultra marathon – remember that’s it’s possible, for truly anything is within the limits of your imagination and the laws of nature.

Be Ambitious!

Nick Goodall is a student of life, self-development addict and author of The Student Manual, a fluff-free guide to help students awaken their potential and take on the world.

 

The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC, based in Arlington, VA, is dedicated to helping students across the U.S.A. meet their goals and find the academic success the want and deserve. Contact us here or call now  to (703) 271-5334 to see how we can help.

Gaby’s dinosaur tree

Gaby's Dinosaur Tree
Gaby’s Dinosaur Tree

Gaby’s Dinosaur Tree

Show Notes

Today’s interview: Gaby Bromley, student, Simmons College 

Guest Biography:

Gabriela Bromley,  Senior, Simmons College, Boston MA, Biopsychology Major.  Gabriela has worked in various hospitals and psychology wards since high school. She is fascinated by neuroscience and aims to apply her learning in real world situations to help others.

student-success-podcast_cover_450Subscribe to Student Success Podcast RSS  or find us on iTunes

Topics Discussed

  • Mindfulness and its five facets:
    • observing
    • describing
    • awareness
    • non judgment
    • non reactivity
  • Procrastination
    • Coping strategies
    • Conditioning
    • Setting priorities
    • Anxiety
  •  Thinking strategically
  • Critical Thinking through Art
    • visual thinking strategies
    • Homer’s Hunter and the Hound painting
    • Gaby’s Dinosaur Tree
  • Social emotional  learning: to discuss in the future

Additional Resources and Links

Gabriela shares the following links:

Mindfulness and Learning: What’s the Connection?

Visual Thinking Strategies: What’s going on in this picture?

Credits

Host: Michael L. Bromley
Dinosaur Tree photo: by Gabriela Bromley (copyright 2013)
Original Music: by Christopher Bromley (copyright 2011, 2013)
Best Dogs Ever: by Puck & Stella

WP_20130926_007

Here for Puck & Stella slideshow

 

The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC, based in Arlington, VA, is dedicated to helping students across the U.S.A. meet their goals and find the academic success the want and deserve. Contact us here or call now  to (703) 271-5334 to see how we can help.

Jobs galore! (… if you got edumacation)

help-wanted_MH900254495bJoblessness related to education?  And work ethic. And skills. And…

A single temp agency reports 20,000 unfilled jobs. One would think that temp jobs up would mean full time openings are down. Not so here: these jobs go unfilled not because everyone is happily employed but because they require 20,000 qualifications that job seekers don’t have. And we’re talking part time jobs.

The sad fact about unemployment today is its disproportionate impact on the unskilled and uneducated, but even for qualified job seekers many opportunities are temporary or part time.

Yep, part time work is the new job market. A look at the raw unemployment numbers to see that temp jobs are driving employment. The reasons for this trend are debatable, and we won’t go there. Still, that in 2010, one quarter of all new jobs created by the private sector were temporary ought to scare us all.

There are today 3.69 million jobs open to be filled, according to the Labor Department, which leaves us with about 3 workers for every job opening. Now, if you’re ignorant like me and you wonder why with 3 people available for every job there are still almost 4 million jobs left open, let’s think this through together:

Firstly, not all of those who are unemployed want a job. The vast majority of those on unemployment insurance find jobs the final month of payments or just after the benefits expire. That’s logical, especially if available jobs don’t pay much more than insurance. Next, individual skills and experience, of course, set the conditions for jobs for which one qualifies. And that’s the problem.

Most unfilled jobs tend to require skills, education, and lifestyle choices that are found only at a premium and by a few. In 2012, CNN reported that there were 200,000 job openings for long-haul truckers. That’s not an easy job, and given drug tests, driving records, and other requirements, one that’s not available to all comers. With my driving record, this is not a career choice for me. What about you? Do you make your daily choices as if a top security clearance depended upon it? You should.

I used to take students to visit the White House Garage, an Army unit that is charged with moving the White House whenever and wherever the President goes. (A few years ago, I did some historical work for them.) The Garage is staffed by NCOs led by a Sargeant Major and a hotshot CO — big league stuff. Whenever the NCOs speak to the students, they always stress the difficulty of appointment to this elite unit. They will not take you if you have a scar, blemish or otherwise unsightly shadow across your record — and that includes your social media history. Sorry, you shouldn’t have said that on Facebook. And the little marijuana bust, ain’t gonna pass. You can get a job from the President with all that, but you cannot get a job protecting the President with it.

And so the same for those other some 4 million unfilled jobs: the applicants don’t meet the job criteria, and vice versa.

A Wall Street Journal interview on Sept 20 with Bob Funk: Where the Jobs Are—and How to Get One highlights the dilemma. Funk owns the staffing firm, Express Employment Services, that has those 20,000 jobs to fill. As in right now. But he can’t fill them. And his jobs pay between $13 – $40 per hour.  Why?

Let’s start with that one quarter of applicants fail a drug test.

Think about it: one out of four people looking for a job with this company can’t pass a drug test. Let’s take it further: those one of every four applicants were the brave ones, as the rest of the drug-taking unemployed didn’t apply. God bless those that tried.

Next, Funk says, applicants don’t have the skills. “If you’ve got a college degree in psych, poly-sci or sociology, sorry, I can’t help you find a job.” Degrees or training in engineering, IT, robotics, accounting, welding will get you a job, he says, and it could be one of the 20,000 openings his company is looking to fill with qualified applicants. They’re not out there. Or they’re taking unemployment or disability.

Now we get to Funk’s larger complaint, that today’s society doesn’t value success in the workplace:

“In my 40-some years in this business, the biggest change I’ve witnessed is the erosion of the American work ethic. It just isn’t there today like it used to be,” Mr. Funk says. Asked to define “work ethic,” he replies that it’s fairly simple but vital on-the-job behavior, such as showing up on time, being conscientious and productive in every task, showing a willingness to get your hands dirty and at times working extra hours. These attributes are essential, he says, because if low-level employees show a willingness to work hard, “most employers will gladly train them with the skills to fill higher-paying jobs.”

In addition to the “erosion of the American work ethic,” Funk points to fundamental problems in our educational system. He suggests that we reward good teachers instead of paying them all the same (been reading my stuff, Mr. Funk?), and that schools should offer vocational alternatives to students who are not academically focused.

I’d add to that last thought that, yes, vocational education should be available for high school and recent high school graduates, absolutely, but any single student can engage the standard high school curriculum so long as that student finds purpose in it. And that’s the rub.

A thousand reforms can’t change that our society is producing high school students ill-prepared for college and college students ill-prepared for the workplace. What can change is individual student choice.

One student at a time can choosing to make his or her academic life more meaningful means one more qualified job applicant — one at a time. Students, let the academic dysfunctions and social pressure to choose wrongly be someone else’s problem. Own your outcomes, students, but you have to choose it.

We help kids do this every day. One student at a time.

– Michael

The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC, based in Arlington, VA, is dedicated to helping students across the U.S.A. meet their goals and find the academic success the want and deserve. Contact us here or call now  to (703) 271-5334 to see how we can help.