August 3, 2017

Tips For a Successful School Year

Some of them you know; some will be a surprise.


As students, parents, and teachers gear up for that first day of school, AR editors asked three teachers—elementary, academy, and university—from various regions in North America to tell us their top five tips for a successful school year. Here is what they said.—Editors.

Elementary Teacher:

Tips for Teachers:

Find your support system. Teaching is both an exhausting and an exhilarating journey that is best experienced when you find others to take it with you. I have found the most support, understanding, and inspiration from those teaching around me in my own school community, as well as from fellow education graduates.

Recharge and reflect. Take time to remember why you became a teacher, write down the things you are thankful for, and spend time with the ultimate Teacher, Jesus.

Take plenty of photos. By the end of the year I have forgotten most of the fun and engaging learning we and the students had accomplished, so revisiting my pictures helps me remember what a truly amazing year we had together. Then share the photos with parents. They love to know what their kids are learning and experiencing in the classroom.

For Parents:

Don’t underestimate the importance of your role in your child’s education. The time you spend with your child after school hours and the habits you encourage them to develop help establish their value system and can determine how successful they will be throughout their academic career!

For Students:

Develop good study habits even in your elementary years. Although it’s important for young students to have plenty of playtime after school, routinely setting aside 10 minutes of study time for spelling or learning memory verses can help teach you the importance of preparing for assignments. Putting off studying until the night before a test doesn’t help develop the strategic habit of studying that will be more useful later in academy and college.

Eileen Williams teaches second grade at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist School in Kirkland, Washington, United States.

Academy Teacher:

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Tips for Teachers:

Spend time getting to know each of your students personally. Find out their birthdays and provide fruit or candy to help them celebrate their special day. Also develop a seating chart so you can get to know their names quickly.

Prepare at least a week in advance what you want to accomplish in class. Plan! Plan! Plan! Success for me comes when I prepare ahead and am organized.

For Parents:

Get to know your child’s teachers and communicate with them. Talking with the teacher in person or on the phone works best.

For Students:

Talk with your teachers. Get to know them and understand what they expect from you. If you don’t understand something, ask. If you need extra help, make an appointment to meet with the teacher after school or another convenient time.

Don’t procrastinate. When a teacher assigns a major project with a due date, don’t wait until the last minute! Complete the assignment in advance, and ask if you can turn it in early and get feedback. This practice will help you to excel.

Dunbar Henri is the Religion Department chair at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Maryland, United States.

University Professor:

Tips for Teachers:

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Colin Hill (second from top/facing right) during a mission trip to Kenya with the Burman University Acronaires.

Get involved with your students outside the classroom. These experiences will provide opportunities for your students to see you as a real person they can relate to. You will also see what makes them “tick,” so you can appeal to that in your teaching. Let them see your faith in action.

Don’t be afraid to try a new technology, method, or even fad. Have a plan, but keep it flexible and adjust as you perfect it. Use your students as a resource; they probably know more about some current tool or app than you do.

Clearly communicate your expectations and rules, and be consistent with your consequences for not following them. Remember, however, that there may be times that the message that grace provides will be worth considering.

For Parents:

Be involved and supportive but not overbearing (known as helicopter or bubble-wrap parenting). Give your children room to make their own decisions and to learn from them. Provide reasons along with advice; personal experiences can help build trust and understanding. Keep the communication lines open.

For Students:

Ask yourself, “If school were my job, would I be fired or promoted?” Prioritize tasks and expectations, then create a workable schedule, avoiding procrastination. Try different study techniques and find what works best for you. Some may find studying alone beneficial, while others may retain more by studying with a group. Above all, be balanced, and include time for physical and spiritual exercise as well as rest in that schedule.

Colin Hill is director of computer services at Burman University in Alberta, Canada.