Tag Archives: building a better student

Building a Better Student: Minor Details

As a kid I heard the old adage about how to eat an elephant – the answer is, of course, one bite at a time. From this I was supposed to learn patience and how to manage large tasks, by breaking them up into manageable pieces. Instead, my ten-year-old mind grappled with why I would want to eat a pachyderm in the first place. Tough and chewy, I imagined. Then I heard that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, which, as a kid, made no... Read More

Building a Better Student: Is That Writing?

The middle school writing assembly had gone well, with an energized audience and a fun exchange of ideas. Then a young man raised his hand. “I want to write a comic book? Does that count as writing?” My answer aggravated a few adults in the back of the room. The same issue arose when I spoke at a conference, and a librarian and I agreed to disagree. “That’s art, and it’s cute, but it’s not really writing,” she told the panel. At a book signing last year a young student... Read More

Building a Better Student: Beyond the Diploma (Part 2)

It’s difficult to define success, because to 10 different people it means 10 different things. But if, for the sake of argument, we agree that it’s a conjunction of career triumph and personal happiness, then what ingredients should your student add to the mix in order to increase her chances of achieving success? In part one of this discussion we examined elements that bolster a professional life. Now we move inside the head and the heart. Here are six additional steps to building a better student beyond the diploma. 1)... Read More

Building a Better Student: Beyond the Diploma

Every year, the job market is swamped with millions of new high school and college graduates, each racing to land one of the few job openings. The competition is not unlike musical chairs, with more applicants than positions, and it can be heartbreaking for a student who has worked hard for four years – or more – in preparation for this one opportunity. Often they end up settling for a position unrelated to their studies. In fact, according to The Washington Post, barely one-fourth of college graduates are in a... Read More

Building a Better Student: Standardized

A friend of mine writes terrific children’s books, with multiple bestsellers and a loyal fan base. Recently he found himself embroiled in a dispute with an editor who claimed that his latest work contained language “too advanced for the target audience.” My friend pushed back, on the grounds that he’d hosted presentations at schools for years and had a good idea of what vocabulary worked and what didn’t. Here’s another angle to consider: Two kids in the same class can be reading two to three grade levels – or more!... Read More

Building a Better Student: First Day Back

It wasn’t until I began working with students on a regular basis that I realized how the beginning of a new school year is like the proverbial fork in the road. Young people face a new class, a new teacher, perhaps a new school, even new friends. Many parents breathe a sigh of relief that summer is over and life can fall back into its routine. But while we tend to associate the start of school with the continuation of a student’s education, it’s really a whole new chapter in... Read More

Building a Better Student: Sherpa

Over the past few years the pop culture industry – and believe me, it’s a massive industry – has breathlessly reported the various stumbles from the celebrity world. Recently a young starlet found herself in an endless loop of bad behavior, and – following the playbook to a T – scheduled an interview with Oprah Winfrey to tell all. (You’d think we’ve heard it all by now, but apparently there’s more that we MUST know.) Oprah made a point of saying that she wasn’t a mentor to the troubled girl.... Read More

Building a Better Student: In The Middle

Dante left out a circle of Hell when he wrote Inferno. He imagined only nine areas of suffering, but he forgot about middle school. In an informal survey, the majority of adults looked back and pegged those two or three years as the most miserable time of their lives. I’m with them: seventh grade was torturous, hands-down the worst experience of my childhood or adolescence. And why is that? Why do so many people shudder when they recall what should’ve been merely another stepping stone from infancy to adulthood? How... Read More

Building a Better Student: Brain Drain

As kids, we loved our summer breaks. As parents and teachers, we sometimes wonder if it derails a kid’s progress in school. Often referred to as “the summer brain drain,” the worry is that too much down time allows students to not only fritter away what they might have learned in the previous school year, but it also gets them out of learning mode. If you’re concerned about this, let me suggest a few things that might ease the problem and help plug the drain. If you think about it,... Read More

Building a Better Student: Front Row

One of the hats I wear is that of public speaker, which means I’m often looking back at a sea of faces in a crowded room. In the past week alone I’ve been on stage twice, sharing insights and laughs with a few hundred people. It’s interesting to watch people file into an auditorium or assembly hall and choose their seats. The front half of a room is often sparsely populated, while the seats in the back fill up quickly. Few people automatically move toward the front, and nobody, it... Read More