Tag Archives: goal setting

ADD: a reminder for parents what “Attention Deficit” really means

Parents of a student who has been diagnosed with “Attention Deficit,” commonly known as “ADD” and “ADHD,” get a reminder every hour of every day that by, “attention deficit,” ADD is more than some inability to focus.

Wikipedia defines “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD) as:

characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age.

The key words here are, “paying attention,” something that I am reminded of as I jumped up from my living room chair at the smell of my burning breakfast. My wife would remind me that I always burn the roast. I remind her that she should remind me when I put something on the stove.

A wise, wonderful person, my Belgian host-mother during my student exchange year to Tournai, Belgium, told me (in French), “Michael, you try to do too much at once.”

My own mother wouldn’t disagree, especially during those numerous emergency visits for another round of stitches needed because I wasn’t “paying attention” again. Continue reading

Procrastination, values, and connecting long term goals to short term choices

student goal setting, values and procrastinationParents and teachers think that if only students would connect their short term decisions to long term goals, such as college and jobs, they would quit procrastinating and do their homework.

That’s why we’re always telling them about how important their future is.

Experience tells us that it’s not a reasonable connection. Kids won’t suddenly start doing their homework because they decided one day to be an astronaut or a sports agent. They do their homework because they think the homework is important unto itself.  Or not.

Every Child Wants Success

Students of all levels have high-standards and long term goals for themselves. But just wanting to go to a good college doesn’t get the homework done.

Continue reading

Ancient advice from Epictetus for students and parents: want what you can, not just what you want (setting realistic expectations)

All students are aspirational: they want to do well in school and for their parents. But when they fall off from expectations, the excuses and resistance begin.

Managing a teen student is complicated enough! Now you have to deal with enforcing rules, upping the oversight, and staying on top of a resistant child. Communication breaks off, and things get, well, unhappy.

At the A+ Club, we help students do better in school by engaging them in reflection, problem solving and goal setting — and following up week to week, along with assignments and grades oversight and direct tutoring when needed.

Our system helps students identify what is possible and feel empowered to get there. When kids don’t know what to do or can’t see past the next step, it’s usually because their expectations aren’t aligned with their realities.

Do not “require a fig in winter”

– Epictetus

When we adults say, “I want to lose weight” it’s as vague and meaningless — and counter-productive — as when a student starts a new quarter after low grades with, “I’m going to get straight A’s.”

Continue reading

Five Steps for Better Grades: Student Success Podcast no. 21

Today’s podcast, Bromley discusses the key ideas behind the blog post:

How do I get better grades?
Five easy steps to improve your grades

The key to goal setting and improvement is breaking it down into little steps that can be accomplished and measured every day.

Student Success Podcast No. 21, Jan. 7, 2015

Continue reading

Are you obstacle-minded or a problem solver? Goal setting & fixing mistakes

When we say, “Oh, well,” to a failure, we are more likely to repeat the mistake. Instead, correct forward rather than excusing backwards. Quite literally, this is “problem solving.”

There will always be obstacles and difficulties. Success doesn’t happen by itself. It’s all about learning from problems instead of resigning to them — or worse, using them as an excuse to give up on our goals. Continue reading

How do I get better grades? Five easy steps to improve your grades

Lots of advice out there, most of it good but not very practical.

Try these steps for simplifying and acting on your goals one bite at a time:

1.  Lower your expectations

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2. Focus on little steps, not big gains

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3. Be aware of why you procrastinate

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4. You don’t have to do it all at once: just get started!

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5.  Ask your teacher a question

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Notice how each of these five steps are about the same thing: focusing on the little parts of your bigger picture and just getting started on it.

It will all fall into place once you get going.

Good luck, and please let us know if we can help out.

– Michael

How to Turn a Bad Report Card Into a Learning Experience

arguing-over-homework_titlepageReport cards are a contentious subject in any household,

but a bad report card is something that parents (and kids) need to handle with tact and grace, as hard as that may sometimes be.

Avoid the common missteps like immediately yelling at or punishing your child for a bad report card. Instead, come up with a productive reaction which will have the best long term outcome. The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC is a comprehensive online tutoring service that takes a holistic approach to test preparation, remedial tutoring, and process oriented educational engagement. Continue reading

Communicating dedication & success with Julian Oribe

presentation_conference_msclipartCommunicating dedication & success with Julian

Student Success Podcast No. 10, Dec. 12, 2013

Today’s Guest: Julian Oribe

Julian discusses his experiences in college in America from the perspective of a foreign, non-native English speaking student. It took dedication and courage to overcome his language barriers and, especially, as Julian discusses, to write 15-page essays and public speeches and presentations. Julian helps remind us about not taking anything for granted and the importance of dedication to one’s goals and never letting barriers or excuses get in our way. Continue reading

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.


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:


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.


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.

Procrastinators unite!

Nah, we’ll get around to it later.

“Hi, my name is Michael, and I’m a procrastinator…”

In our inaugural podcast, Gabriela Bromley, a neuroscience major at Simmons College, introduced to our listeners the relationship between procrastination and anxiety. I’m amazed by the insight – so simple, so obvious, but one that I had never considered before.

I asked a guidance counselor friend of mine about it. This professional’s ability to relate to and understand kids is extraordinary. “Wow,” she told me, “I’ll have to include that in my next student questionnaire.” Me, too.

Rational Choice Theory

When teaching, I always talked to kids about procrastination. I viewed it as an entirely rational choice and its opposite, getting things done right away, as, well, a bit freaky. Think about all the moral tales and quotes on it, starting with Thomas Jefferson’s, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” or Aesop’s “The Grasshopper and the Ants” fable. If procrastination weren’t so normal, society wouldn’t lecture us about it so much.

Thankfully, Mark Twain comes in on our side: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Yep, there’s always another tomorrow, or so we hope. Yet even Twain gets serious and gives actual advice on how to beat the impulse to delay:

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

It’s tough advice, no matter who it comes from, because just grasping the nature of some tasks sure can be “overwhelming.” And if we could just do that first step, wouldn’t we be doing the rest already? How are we going to start that first thing if the entire thing is scary, or if we are unsure and intimidated by it? Even more readily than putting off what we know we must do, we put off what we don’t understand how to do. Thank you, Gaby, for pointing this out!

Teachers: how many of your procrastinators just don’t know what to do? How many late papers or projects are late because the student was unsure and insecure about it, and not because they’re lazy or disengaged? Have you prepared your students for it? Have you identified their needs and concerns? It’s not so simple as “get it in on time,” anymore, is it?


It begs the question, however, that if we are anxious and unsure, how come we finally get to it at the hard deadline?

“If it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done”- Anonymous

The reason that procrastinators posses infinite ability to focus and work long hours just before a deadline is because the task wasn’t clear to them until then. It was the deadline that forced the concentration and the courage that went missing before. We procrastinators need to build early that anxious deadline feeling, that scent of battle that finally pushes us to get it done at the last minute — only at the first minute, instead.

But this is, as they say,

Easier said than done.

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never.'” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

That and the Golden Rule, easier said than done. So what can we do about it? A couple thoughts, first, following Gabriela’s ideas about procrastination and anxiety, and the other following our core strategy of articulation at the A+ Club:

1. “Am I putting it off because I’m afraid of it?

From now on I will use Gaby’s dictum as the first question. Am I afraid? Or is it because I don’t know what to do? It’s so much easier to say “I can’t” than to get help. Again, a rational choice. But, we want to resolve this procrastination thing, not excuse it. So, instead:

2. Articulate: say it, track it, and get it done.

At the A+ Club , our view on overcoming procrastination and delay is to think about it, say it, and remind.  The more you speak it the closer you are to getting it done. We call it “Articulation.” Say it, track it, and get it done.

Student procrastination is not about laziness. Not even procrastinators put off the things they enjoy. When students are inspired and engaged, they eagerly jump on the assignment and meet all the deadlines. Sure, procrastination is a matter of priorities — get off the phone, turn off the Xbox, and so on, but we prioritize what we best understand and believe in.

Maybe it’s time for us all to put off taking an honest look at procrastination.

– 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.