March is Read Aloud Month. Here are “5 Great Reasons to Read Aloud!”
By reading aloud just 15 minutes a day, you are “feeding” your child’s brain by building vocabulary and life-long literacy skills. And remember, it doesn’t have to be 15 minutes in a row, and you don’t have to finish the book!
You will be creating a lifetime interest in reading that will help them in all areas of their education, as well as social and emotional development. Pick up a book and #Read!
As a college instructor for over fifteen years, I’ve learned the importance of starting off the semester with a framework for student success. Although you may find it hard to schedule it in, taking time for this type of discussion in the early weeks is so valuable and will lead to better student outcomes, more engagement, and higher student retention.
These are the “Top 4” strategies for student success we’ve been discussing in the classroom:
1. Growth Mindset: Intelligence is not “fixed.” You are not programmed at a certain level of “smart” and that’s that. Your brain is like a muscle, and with more use, and practice, you can grow your dendrites. (See also neuroplasticity.) You can improve in a subject area. For example, it isn’t that you “just aren’t good at writing, never have been,” but that you have not yet learned the right combination of skills and techniques for that assignment. Once you have these skills, (in writing or another subject) you will see steady improvement.
2. Personal Survey: Find out how you feel about learning. (See #1 above regarding how self-limited beliefs can shape outcome.) What were your previous experiences like with this subject matter in school, higher education, or in the K-12 school system? Think about your prior knowledge and experience (schema) on the subject. Find a connection, with your courses, & the college. If you’re not already excited for the semester, find some way (student clubs, sports, etc.) to get excited. The brain on positive is 31% more productive than on negative, stressed, or even neutral!
3. Goal Setting: establish “SMART” goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. For best results, write or type out your goals and address each of the SMART areas. When you think about and set goals early in the semester, it leads to you taking the small steps to achieve those goals. For example, it’s fantastic to say, “Well my goal is an A in this class.” You have a positive attitude and are setting high expectations for yourself. But, what specific action steps will you take that will lead you to obtaining that grade? How many hours a week will you study? On what days? Where?
4. “The Basics.” Read the syllabus. Go to (every) class. Visit your instructor early and often when you have questions. We welcome, expect, and want you to come to office hours! We don’t bite! I promise! And we’re even kinda funny, in an endearingly nerdy sorta way! Again, I promise! 🙂
If you are a student, let us know in the comments which of these strategies you find most helpful, or most difficult, to put into action. If you’re an instructor, let us know if you spend time during the early weeks of the semester working on these metacognitive strategies, and/or which others you might add to the list.
For more on all of these topics, (including the research that backs it up), check out our blog archives, or leave a comment with any questions. We like–no–LOVE questions here at College Ready Coach! Now go out there and light some fires!
The starting point for a successful semester is to take a look at your mindset and your beliefs about your abilities. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with positive messages that you can and will get to the finish line (aka the end of the semester).
The first week of college is challenging, but with the right state of mind you can tackle any challenge. Visualize success. That’s what top athletes do, from Michael Jordan to Michael Phelps, and it works!
Remember to reach out to me if you have any questions on how to make this a successful semester. Consider me your virtual college coach. I love teaching and I love helping students reach their goals!
This article from US News & World Report “Top 10 Secrets of College Success” outlines the way college students can soar to the top of the class. Don’t let nerves get the best of you. Set out to succeed, make a plan and stick to it. The 10 tips in the article are a good starting point.
As a college prof who has been in the classroom for 17 years, I have to agree with the list. I am especially fond of #3: “Get to class!” and #8: “Get to know your prof!” I would say that in my many years of experience, with countless numbers of students, the ones that consistently do the best are there. In the seat. At every. Single. Class. Yes. We did something important today at that class you missed.
And they come to office hours. When they can’t make office hours, they send me an email to set-up an appointment. Don’t be afraid to reach out like that. We really (REALLY!) want you to come talk with us at anytime, not only when you are having difficulties, but for mentoring, advice about classes, and just to connect. And I promise, it is so NOT like getting sent to the principal’s office. We are kinda cool peeps in a “tweed jacket with elbow patches kind of way.” (Just kidding. I don’t own a tweed jacket.) Again, students who do connect with their instructors tend to do better overall, according to the research.
I’m going to put in a quick plug for one that isn’t on the list. #11, if you will. Make sure to get involved in campus life. There are literally hundreds of clubs, organizations, sports team (and not just varsity athletics, intramural, too!), and a variety of other groups to check out. Find what fits for you. It’s a great way to meet other students, make some new friends, and to really invest in college life.
Students that feel connected, with their peers, their professors, and their college, actually graduate at much higher rates of completion! So not only are you having fun & getting better grades, you are making progress toward your long-term academic goals.
Good luck to all of you as you start the new semester. If I can be of any help to you, please reach out. The comments are open. You can also follow us on facebook to get quick updates, articles and advice for college success. You know what to do…just click that blue button at the top of this page that says “Like.” Consider me your virtual college coach…here to help you make it to the finish line.
Happy Blogaversary! It’s been exactly one year since I started College Ready Coach. What a year it has been! I’ve learned so much, and met so many great bloggers, writers, students and educators along the way! The one common denominator we all share: a passion for learning.
I could not have anticipated what the year would hold, but decided to take that leap, jump in and get started. It’s meant a lot of writing, amazing opportunities, more writing, and new adventures, as the message of College Ready has been shared & spread around the globe. Now, 12 months later, with over 6700 visitors from 93 countries, I am grateful, humbled, and excited to embrace the next step!
Thank you so much for making this blog a place for students, parents, and educators to have a conversation, share ideas, and support one another. We need opportunity, access, and mentors to make sure every student has a chance to be college ready. For more on helping first-generation college students succeed, check out this article.
I truly believe that “Education is the movement from darkness to light,” (Allan Bloom). Reach out to me if you have any questions, or need help shedding some light on the process of getting from high school to college.
I am happy to feature guest bloggers, especially international students , college freshmen, and parents of college students. Feel free to message me if you have ideas or suggestions.
For more on why I started the blog, and the importance of being a mentor in a student’s life, you can read this post: 1 Easy Way to be a Hero.
To find out more about CollegeReadyCoach, check out our About page.
Try something new during these last few weeks of the school year. It can be like a dress rehearsal to see if you want to blend it into your “teacherly bag ‘o tricks” for next year. I like this education infographic from the amazing Mia Mac Meeken.
This article from the Greater Good Science Center discusses the impact of academic mentoring, engagement and community building on first-generation college students. Research now shows that it’s the social emotional aspects of college life that can be challenging for these students, who don’t have a model of academic success to draw on once they are away at school.
This week, I’m posting some favorite quotes and images in honor of all the amazing educators out there who teach, inspire, mentor and encourage our nation’s youth to keep moving forward. Happy teachers are a positive force for change. One kind word can impact the entire direction of a student’s life, and one lesson can light the spark that produces a lifelong learner.
As we get to the end of the semester and school year, we are expecting our students to demonstrate higher order thinking skills, or Critical Thinking. I like this infographic from Learning Commons at the University of British Columbia.
Thanks to its simple flow chart style, students can use it to clearly reflect on their own thinking. Students need to constantly question their own process, and those of others. They need to ask questions about the text they read, test possibilities, and allow for new discoveries.
Higher order thinking skills (HOTS) push our students beyond simple responses and elevate them to scholars and critics in their own right. Part of what’s vital in education is for students to learn to trust their own voice, while still questioning their thinking. What strategies do you use in your classroom to encourage critical thinking?