3 Tips to Start the School Year Off Right

The school year has started, homework is mounting, and you’re already thinking of how to get extra credit. The September “adjustment period” of learning your new schedule, testing the class expectations, and staying on top of the wonderful blend of academics/extra-curriculars/friends probably has you collapsing in your bed and hiding under the sheets.

Luckily, there’s hope.

Here are a few quick strategies, from a teacher with nearly ten years of experience, that will help you succeed no matter the new classroom climate you may be facing.

1. Be Prepared  Nobody likes getting to class and realizing they forgot their materials, lost an assignment, or plain stumbled out of the gate by misunderstanding something simple. Teachers are human—and if they see you are trying to stay organized and overcome early-season challenges, they will be willing to listen and accommodate moving forward. But preparedness requires responsibility, always in advance of what’s coming, so give yourself time to get ready.

Sage Advice Don’t hesitate! Take 10 minutes at home to lay out your materials. Visualize what you will need for the following class day. Make a plan. Feel confident knowing you are walking into class and delivering exactly what’s expected. If you need help: ask. At Sage, we value individualized one-on-one time, and so it makes sense that you should also give yourself a moment, every day, to assess what’s coming next. It will help you stay prepared.

2. Talk With ALL of Your Teachers Give yourself five minutes to talk to them before or after class. Establish a “working” relationship that will help you both build trust and establish a “getting to know you period.” If you need strategies for how to start, put yourself in their shoes and imagine that you have to get to know a new student. By forming rapport and opening up to your teachers (and not just your favorite ones), you are giving yourself an entryway for negotiating “mutual benefits” that will pay off later in the school year. It’s never a bad idea to ask questions such as “Is there anything I can do to help myself succeed in this class?” At Sage, we think being in close communication with your teachers and knowing the expectations of a class is essential to your own success. Take the time.

Sage Advice Many colleges *require* two letters of recommendation, one each from a STEM subject and one from the humanities. If either one is a “stronger” subject, work on speaking with teachers in a variety of fields to help bolster your recommendation arsenal. Make sure you’re speaking with teachers at appropriate times, too.

3. Be Your Own Advocate Speak up and look for opportunities to succeed! If you’re feeling overwhelmed during study periods, don’t ignore homework, instead, if you need a mental break, try to prioritize, plan, or organize. At Sage, we emphasize planning based on individual needs and understand that all free time can’t be used for academics. Accommodate accordingly and work smarter, not always harder! Help is never far away.

Sage Advice If you’re unsure of how to best use study periods (or free time when you’re at school), talk to an adult and see if you can volunteer other ways. Librarians can always use assistants, teachers frequently appreciate aides, and if you feel like you’re finding it hard to focus when you should be working, give yourself 20 minutes of hard effort, and 10 minutes to relax the brain, get a snack, or unwind… then repeat as needed. It helps to let teachers know if you feel overwhelmed with your outside responsibilities or expectations too. Don’t feel overly guilty if it feels like “too much to manage”. All it takes is trust in your own voice.

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