As a school administrator, I have the opportunity to talk to a lot of different students about a wide variety of situations. In fact, I would like to think that I have seen and heard just about everything. Recently, this has got me thinking about what it takes to be a successful student, not just here at Grant, but anywhere. Now, I know that each student is different and each student’s situation is unique but I have determined that there is formula for being successful. Better yet, it’s like a recipe for success, and it looks like this:
- Good Attendance-I know it sounds almost too easy, but in order to be a successful student, you have to come to school. Our teachers work their teaching magic day in and day out and if you are not in the seat it makes it tough to learn. Sure, you can get the work that was missed, but you missed the show that connected the dots and helped students learn. Successful students demonstrate consistent attendance and school attendance is a priority to them.
- Follow Classroom Rules-Rules in the classroom exist for one reason…to help make learning happen. When rules are not followed, the learning in the classroom suffers. By classroom rules, I am talking about the general rules of being prepared when class starts, listening when the teacher is talking, showing respectful behavior towards the teacher and classmates, and following directions when they are given. Students who do these things will be engaged and prepared to learn.
- Participation-Successful students that I know participate fully in the learning activities designed by the teacher. They ask questions when something is not clear and they give the teacher 100% of their time and attention while in the classroom.
- Enthusiasm-There is a little secret to learning and life…effort impacts attitudes. When students come to class and participate with effort, their attitude towards what the teacher is teaching (and towards school in general) changes. They become enthusiastic about learning and learning actually becomes something fun to them.
- Driven by Goals-For some students, there is already an idea out there on the horizon of what they want to do for a career and that is what drives them. For example, I know students that are all over math early because they want to be an engineer. Now, not everyone knows what they want to do but the good students that I know are driven by a goal. Whether it is a gpa goal, an award (Principal’s List, Honor Roll, etc.), or an improvement goal, there is something that helps to drive them to do what it takes to be successful. With goals, students begin to see education and learning as a tool to get them where they want to go instead of something that must be painfully endured.
- Manage Time-I don’t care who you are, everyone has 24 hours in the day to work with and good students make the most of their time by doing first things first. They work and then play, not the other way around. They understand the concept of balance between responsibility and recreation and they almost always take care of their responsibilities first. They have an organization system that includes the use of tools, like their Academic Planner, to help them keep track of their business. They use their time effectively to get things done.
- Communication-Good students talk to adults around them. If they don’t get it, they ask for clarification. If they were absent, they ask for make-up work. If parents ask how school is going, they tell them. If they are stressed, they ask for help. They take advantage of the resources and take responsibility for their own learning by speaking up when they need to.
- They Do Their BEST-Notice that I am not talking about perfect students because there is no such thing. The students that I am talking about do their very best every day to ensure their own learning and as they do it, they learn that excuses never help and there is no limit to what they are capable of doing.
I like the word “recipe” to describe this process because being a successful student is a lot like cooking something. Think of it like baking a cake. You need the essential ingredients and you need them in order. If I start baking a cake and I leave out eggs, I am going to have a problem. Same goes for learning. If a student is in class and is leaving out one of these essential ingredients, the learning is going to break down.
The great thing about the “ingredients” on my list is that they all depend on choice. Any student anywhere, regardless of circumstance, can make the choice every day to bring these things into the classroom in order to help them be successful. I know that these things work because I get the chance to see it every day at the best school in the state of California. Not only will they work for the years that they are here, but they will also lead to success in life anywhere they go after they move on from here. That’s a promise. Here’s to a great spring at Grant Elementary School. GO COUGARS!