How to Succeed in the Upper School by Really Trying

As the first quarter draws to a close, there is a discernible push to the finish line.  Girls are suddenly a little more anxious, and teachers are in a sea of papers, projects, and tests.  It makes me grateful again that I am in a girls’ school where the students truly care about their work.

When the first marks are complete and they are posted for families to peruse, inevitably there are moments of triumph and moments of frustration.   For those students who would like to use this quarter as their stepping stone to a better understanding of the material in the future, I thought I would share some advice that I find myself saying over and over  in my office.

Here are the top ten bits of advice that I give to students and parents about grades.  The first five are for the students and the second five are for you, the parents.

1)    If you would like to improve a grade, look at what you can do to make it better next quarter.  Try not to blame the grade on circumstances or things out of your control.  A lower grade can be your opportunity for growth.  It is not a statement about your worth as a student; it is a snapshot of what is required for you to do well in a particular class.

2)    Continue to be as active in the learning process as possible.  Talk to your teacher.  Schedule a time when you can meet one-on-one and go over questions you still have.  “A” students never have reservations about asking for help.

3)    Always do homework in your hardest class first.  Begin working on it at school if at all possible, so that you can ask a teacher or a friend what to do if you are stuck at a certain place.

4)   Use your free time at school wisely.  Go to the library or a quiet classroom and begin an assignment or look over that vocabulary for a quiz one more time.

5)    Begin collecting tests and quizzes from the first quarter now and make sure all questions have the correct answers.  This will help you when it is time to study for exams in December.

6)   Parents are asked to remember that it is okay for students to have rough spots along the way.  We have to take the long view.

7)   Remember that colleges only see the semester grades and not the quarter grades.  (The first quarter is only 40% of the semester grade.)

8)   As parents, try to reinforce what your daughters have done to achieve their goals.  Make your praise about their hard work, discipline, and persistence more than about their natural talents.  This will keep them on the path of becoming a lifelong learner.

9)   Try not to let them say, “I am just not good at _______ .”   Remember to add the word “yet” to the end of the sentence.  We go to school to learn new things, not to affirm us in what we already know.

10)  As parents we can’t protect our children from small disappointments or even failure.  We need them to experience these things to foster one of the most useful tools a person can possess, resilience.  These girls need to learn what they will do in life and how they will act when things don’t go their way.

As always, thank you for sharing your wonderful learners with us!


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