Thoughtful Thursday: 6 Tips for a Great School Year

IMG_0519Happy Thursday, friends! It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since I’ve been a student, and since graduating from graduate school (the first time around), I’ve now spent those five years in between on the other side as a teacher. With every new school year there comes a similar level of anxiety and excitement about what it will bring, and in those moments, I can’t help but ask myself: Will I get through the curriculum? Will my students enjoy themselves and learn the material? Will I finally strike that work-life balance? And while I’m just a few short weeks away from returning to the classroom as a student, I find myself asking similar questions: Will I learn a lot? What kind of learner am I? Will I form meaningful relationships with my professors and peers? Do I remember how to study? Will I finally conquer procrastination and complete my assignments to the best of my ability? It’s so easy to get bogged down with feelings of doubt, fear, and anxiety. After all, change is never easy. Luckily, there are things we can do to help ease the transition. Here are a few tips I’ve shared with students in the past as a teacher and will now be reminding myself of as a student. Hopefully, they’ll help you, too!

One: Be prepared. This one is easy enough, but always remember to come to class prepared with your materials, to ask questions, to listen to others, to engage openly, to focus, to be challenged, and to grow–recognizing that growth is often times outside of our comfort zones.

Two: Be open-minded. Try not to allow people’s opinions of your course or the instructor influence your own experience. This applies to other aspects, as well. Perhaps a course or instructor may not initially meet your expectations. Maybe your school isn’t offering the extracurricular club you hoped to join. Whatever it is, take everything with a grain of salt, day-by-day, and with an openness and willingness to at least try it out. Sure, it’s nerve-wracking at times, but sometimes trying new things helps us discover parts of ourselves we never knew existed and interests we never thought we’d have.

Three: Be diligent. School isn’t easy. Making friends isn’t easy. Being a leader and doing the right thing isn’t easy. Most things that matter are never easy, but they are worthwhile, so put in the work. Take some time to determine your biggest goals for the school year or maybe start small and just focus on the first quarter or semester. Once you’ve listed your goals, create an action plan that will help you achieve those goals because a goal without a plan is just a wish. For example, if your goal is to earn straight As this year, ask yourself how you’ll go about making that happen. Read the chapter beforehand? Take thoughtful marginal notes? Ask questions? Seek writing help? Devote more time to your studies than you do to watching Netflix? Whatever you think will help you exceed your aspirations, map it out and put it into practice.

Four: Be flexible. Luckily nothing is set in stone, so if you find your plan just isn’t working, take a moment to readjust. It’s better to give it a shot and modify than to keep trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Remember, that’s the very definition of insanity.

Five: Be patient and positive. There is an adjustment period for everyone and sometimes even a learning curve. There are good days and there are not so good days. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t try to rush the process. Instead, take things one day at a time, one step at a time. All you can do is give your very best every single day and remember that growth and positive change are just around the corner.

Six: Be yourself. No matter what grade you’re in or your mission in life, sometimes we just want to fit in. We want the most popular boy in school to ask us out on a date. We want to be the star student in school. We want to be captain of the soccer team. We want to be seen and remembered, but even in the midst of all the competition, we have to remember to always be ourselves, to be kind and compassionate, to lift others up, to lend a helping hand, to be genuine and honest. At the end of the day, it isn’t always about what you do in life because what really defines you is who you are.

What are your tips and tricks for having a successful school year? Comment below!

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