It's always hard to get back into the swing of things. I enjoyed school, but just like every other kid, my countdown till summer started on the first day back to class. Each school year, I told myself "this is the year I'll finally get organized and stay organized." Unfortunately, the cleanliness of my backpack and efficient study schedule was only applause-worthy for maybe the first week or two.
The greatest lesson I learned: STAY ON TOP OF IT. As long as you stay on top of your studies and do what is required of you, you'll get the grades to make mom proud. Sure, success is hard-earned and you should absolutely work for that fridge-worthy grade report, but even just developing a few easy habits will guarantee that you keep positive ties with your teachers and maintain a low level of stress throughout the school year. It's always nice to get a pat on the back from the teacher. Parent-teacher conferences will go swimmingly! And it's never too early to set college goals.
Now that I am older and wiser, I feel it is my duty to enlighten young scholars with things I wish I knew and habits I wish I stuck to when I was in school.
Tips for Simple Success:
1. Show up to class and be on time: If you want to avoid your teacher glaring at you, don't waltz in mid-lecture. Get there 10 minutes early. Life happens, teachers are understanding of the occasional tardy. If you show up late, apologize and quickly take your seat.
2. Keep a day planner: Stay organized. Forgetting to do a homework assignment because you didn't write it down is just plain lazy and will surely affect your grade.
Keep track of which assignments need to get done and cross things off as you go.
3. Sit up front: Most kids don't like to sit up front, but this usually keeps you from falling asleep. (I once had a teacher who would make the whole class yell FIRE DRILL anytime someone fell asleep in class…only slightly embarrassing.) Sitting up front also makes you a better listener. You might even learn that your teacher is much wittier than you thought.
4. Take notes: Just because the teacher says taking notes is optional, doesn't mean you shouldn't. You don't need to write down the lecture word-for-word, just the important stuff or things you think you'll need to remember. Teachers like to test your in-class involvement by writing tricky test questions with answers that can almost always be found in your notes.
5. Stay hydrated and fed so you can stay focused: You're much more alert when you're hydrated and fed. Keep snacks and a water bottle in your back-pack. Just be sure to eat and drink quietly. Steer clear of noisy wrappers that might distract the rest of the class, or wait for a better time to enjoy your snack.
6. Manage your time well with bigger projects: don't procrastinate. You'll be glad you got it done ahead of time when your other classmates are up through the wee hours of the night scrambling to get it done.
7. Ask questions: Like your teachers always say, it's true. There really is no such thing as a stupid question. Chances are, someone next to you probably has the same question but is also hesitant to ask. Your teacher's job is to help you learn and you won't learn if you don't ask.
8. Actually do the readings: Yes, textbooks are boring but when you do the readings, you absorb more than you think. You won't kick yourself later when the answer to that test question you missed was the title of chapter five.
9. Maintain strong and respectful relationships with your teachers: When it comes to doing you a favor or extending that deadline (because of, what I can only imagine, are very special circumstances), teachers are much more likely to cut you some slack if they know your name and if you spoke up in class a few times. Be opinionated, work hard and show that you're present physically and mentally.
10. Don't text or surf the internet during class: Even though you think you won't get caught, you will. Even if the teacher says nothing, your name will still be filed away under "kid who texts in class." You don't need to text your friend sitting across the room, and updating your Facebook status can wait. The new line parents should probably start telling their teens: if you keep texting that fast, your fingers will get stuck that way.
Okay, maybe your fingers won't get stuck that way from too much texting, but there are perks to following these ten tips. These aren't hard things to do. It just takes a little effort. This advice will get you through grade school with flying colors and once college rolls around, you'll find it's pretty easy to stay on top of it all. Be present, be prepared and you'll have more time for the fun stuff.
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(Marina Orievsky studied Communication at the University of Washington where she put her focus on journalism and social media. She has worked with Revolution Inc. and Papersalt since January 2012, contributing blog material about life lessons and about her personal experiences with transitioning from teenage years to adulthood.)