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De Parte del Maestro
By Josh Flores

Time to hit the books…make this year different!
As you read this I am sure most of you are back to school and for the parents, I am sure you are relieved that the summer is over and your students are back to ‘hitting the books.’ 

For me, the summer went extremely fast.  Nevertheless, here we are again and as I begin my 11th year of teaching I have decided that I will reinvent myself.  By reinvent, I don’t mean I will change everything, because some things are working and those don’t need to be changed, but there are other things that I haven’t or couldn’t do in the past and that is where my focus will be. 

Josh Flores

As a student, you too can make changes, even if they are small, to make this year different and hopefully better.

Step out of your comfort zone
I am speaking from experience when I say that the longer you do something, the more you will tend to do it the same way.  Last year I found that after ten years I was falling into this pattern in my teaching and I thought to myself that I needed to make some changes. 

There are two main reasons that I saw the need to make some changes and they both had to do with motivation.  My motivation is critical; I have to feel energized and excited about my classes every day.  If I am lacking the motivation then the second factor would suffer, meaning my students will not be motivated and that spells disaster in the classroom. 

To avoid the potential ‘disaster’ I took a graduate class and it offered me a number of different ways to change things up in the classroom in order to keep things interesting for my students. Obviously, you are already a student and you often have little control over what you classroom will be like; however, you do have control over the most important factor of your success-your attitude. 

As a teacher, I am encouraged to offer assistance and extra help to those students who possess a positive attitude.  Some students may say that is ‘playing favorites.’ But just think about it logically, what kind of person is more appealing—a person who is always negative or a person who is at least trying to be positive? 

You have to keep in mind that we teachers are people too and we generally will gravitate towards positivity.  What I am basically saying is if you have a positive attitude about something it will help you in making slight changes that will benefit you and hopefully help you perform well academically. 

Try sitting in the front of the class if you are normally a back-of-the-class dweller; introduce yourself to your teacher and tell them what you hope to gain from the class, become friends with someone in the class who is strong in that subject area so you can study together (not cheat!), and lastly don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. After all that is our job as teachers.

Learn to study…no really, you NEED to learn to study!
Year after year, you have cruised along applying minimal effort just to get by in school, or maybe you are at the top of your class and you think because you do your work then you are doing everything you need to be successful academically, or maybe you don’t put forth any effort and that is why your teachers ‘give’ you ‘Fs’ in all of your classes. 

No matter what your case is, it is critical that you learn to study if you want to do anything with your life. 

When I say anything, I do mean anything. First of all without a high school diploma, your outlook is bleak at best, so graduation should be a no brainer necessity. 

Secondly, in today’s world almost any job that you get will require you to learn something; if you don’t know how to study then you will not likely meet your full potential no matter what the job is. 

Lastly, if you plan to go to college, and I truly hope that you do, then you are in for a rude awakening if you think that your honor student status in high school will mean anything to a demanding college professor.  

So what do you do?  First, it is important to understand that the word study is not the best word in my opinion.  I prefer the word prepare. Preparation can come in many forms and can incorporate a number of activities. 

The reason I prefer ‘prepare’ is because we all learn in different ways and as a result certain activities will serve you better than others in becoming prepared. You have to understand yourself and how you operate best to be your best. 

Here is how you do it—first, take an online test to determine your learning style. Here are a few websites with free tests: www.ldpride.net/learningsyles and www.berguis.co.nz.abiator.lsiframe.html .  If you don’t have internet access at home you can go to your local library or take it at school. Once you have determined your learning style, then you are better equipped to prepare yourself. 

The next step is to utilize study skills and strategies that fit your learning style. Here are some websites that give numerous study skills, strategies, and other academic help, including writing and mathematics: www.studygs.net , www.how-to-study.com and www.educationatlas.com/study.skills.html .

Get involved
My final suggestion for your new and improved school year is to get involved in activities and clubs. 

Research shows that students who are involved in extracurricular activities have a higher graduation rate than those who do not.  In addition you will have fun, meet new people, and help build a sense of community within your school. 

If you haven’t been involved in activities before, then this is your year to do it; if you have been involved, then this is your year to try something new and join a club or activity that you have not been a part of. 

I wish you a productive and successful school year!  ¡Hasta la próxima vez!

I would love to hear from you about my column please send me feedback or let me know if there is something you would like me to write about.  You can e-mail me at [email protected]. ¡Gracias por tu apoyo!





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