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The good news: by senior year, many teens ARE good writers who can crank out a thoughtful essay that answers the prompt.

The bad news: a majority of the rough drafts I see cross my desk (as a tutor) are really NOT submission ready. Not even close.

While I don't pretend to speak on behalf of admissions officers here, my inner English teacher is cringing while reading my students' work, the drafts that are supposed to not only gain admission for them but should ideally also win scholarships and/or admission to honors programs (and the like).

What's worse is that, at least in my area, my students are telling me three things:
1. My English teacher doesn't talk about admissions essays. We are on our own.2. Yeah, we wrote essays for school, but there was only one short comment on it. My teacher says that (he/she) doesn't want to grade or judge my life.3. I'm in an (AP/IB/honors) English class, so my teacher says we don't need help writing our essays. We are already good writers.

Here's my struggle. With all due respect to hardworking, overloaded, fantastic teachers of high school English, most of whom have limited freedom in their curriculums... this is arguably the most important essay that students will ever write.

Regardless of what they "should" be able to do by now (and the fact that it's not our job to be students' personal editors), this essay merits our attention. It's a special genre that most teens need help completing, and more importantly, this essay is an equality issue. Many students won't get help at all, or the right kind of help, to do it.

So, what reasonable steps can English teachers take, and why?

1. Encourage out-of-the-box thinking.

One of my biggest pet peeves is that so many essays sound the same. One year, I swore that if I read ONE MORE essay about why a volleyball or football coach was inspiring, I was going to quit tutoring forever.

Even when students have to answer a very specific prompt, they need to EITHER write unique content, have a unique answer, or put a unique spin on a common answer. Instead of telling me why your football coach is so wonderful, how about telling us that your football coach actually taught you more about academics than sports? (Just an example.)

Preach uniqueness to students. The readers need to see what is different and interesting about the applicant, or there will be nothing memorable about the essay.

2. Talk about blending genres.

Yes, this is (usually) an essay, but how about a narrative, storytelling hook? What about mixing informative and persuasive?

With some exceptions, a lot of colleges want to read essays with anecdotes, that flow more like a TED talk than a five-paragraph snooze fest. They want to be drawn into the story of who you are and see for themselves why you should be admitted. Bending genre is the new name of the essay game.

3. Discuss how to sell yourself appropriately.

Too much self-talk can sound arrogant, especially since admissions officers love honesty and humility... but not enough of it means that the essay may not reveal why the student is acceptance-worthy. 

Even if you don't have time for full lessons on tone and word choice, perhaps mention to these well-intentioned students that this IS a spectrum that they'll want to fall in the middle of.

4. Preach the RIGHT revision strategies.

Besides editing those essays to be grammatically PERFECT (obviously), I want students to actually revise their drafts.

But believe it or not, their biggest struggle isn't usually a lack of revision skills: it's knowing which friends and family members' feedback to listen to. Peers may or may not know what they're talking about, and parents sometimes have an outdated (sorry) vision of what this essay is supposed to be. (I once had a parent get angry with me because he was concerned that his son's essay structure wasn't traditional enough.)

Have an appropriate conversation with students, based on their skill level, about how to revise and who to ask for help. (You do NOT have to volunteer to be their reader; discuss who else is a good idea to ask!)

5. Ask if their draft makes a point.

This is a fun one. A lot of essays answer the prompted question... but do nothing else. No real thesis statement, no sneaky subplot, no revelation of their personality or uniqueness (see #1). Yes, students need to answer the question, but sometimes they answer it SO directly that the essay feels clinically impersonal and neutral.

The question I like to ask is: "If you forgot to put your name on this, would I be able to tell it's yours, or would it sound like everyone else's?" If the latter, then they need to weave  themselves in more somehow.

6. Check their organization.

We all know that some students are, um, "less organized" than others. Give them a hand by passing out this free graphic organizer to help them get their prompts, deadlines, word counts, and other details in order. 
As an ACT tutor, I hate hearing students, teachers, or parents say any of the following about an ACT or SAT essay:
  • She's a good writer. She'll be fine.
  • They write essays all the time.
  • Yeah, I'm taking the writing test. It's just an essay, no big deal.
  • Oh, the essay section changed in 2016? Didn't know that. How different is it?
(*Facepalm*)

The problem is, the ACT's writing section is different enough from the writing normally done at school that I see a lot of students underperform in a way that was completely preventable. Typically "good" writers are getting scores of 6 or 8 (out of 12), when they should be getting more competitive numbers.

While it's probably not an 11th grade English teacher's "job" to do ACT/SAT prep or teach to the test, there's a problematic reality that if teachers don't get involved a little, most students won't get this knowledge and/or skills anywhere else. And that, my teacher friend, is worrisome.

So what's going on, and what are the easiest steps an English teacher can take to help juniors be more ready?

Here are the biggest culprits:

1. The timing is more intense than school.

It's 30 minutes total, including reading the prompt and the entire brainstorm, draft, and proofread process. That task can be daunting if students get writer's block, have test anxiety, don't understand the prompt in the heat of the moment, or struggle to wrestle their ideas into submission.

If your students haven't done timed writing in a while, are accustomed to 45 minutes, or aren't proficient at it, then they'll need help to cope. Check out my timed writing unit to help students get practice completing a cohesive draft in less time. 

2. Students don't know the (new) rubric.

When the ACT changed the writing test in 2016, the prompt style AND the rubric both changed. The assessment is no longer just a typical 5-paragraph (or so) opinion essay. Students are supposed to also:
  • acknowledge, support, or refute other viewpoints
  • provide some combination of context, implications, significance, etc.
  • recognize flaws in logic or assumptions made in a viewpoint, using it to their advantage if necessary
  • (still write a cohesive essay with a thesis and a variety of evidence, as before)

... all in 30 minutes or less. English teachers can help by at least going over the rubric in class, if not assigning an ACT-style essay that gets assessed as part of the class.

3. The linguistic bar is high.

In addition to the content characteristics described in #2, students are supposed to have decent grammar, varied sentence structures for good flow, transitions within and between paragraphs, and really great fiction or synonyms.

English teachers: if your writing rubrics or grading style don't typically address these, consider bringing it up in class, assessing for these characteristics on the next essay, or reading over a mentor text that DOES meet this bar (see #4).

4. They need to see examples.

I highly recommend that students go to this link to not only read a sample 6/6 essay, but compare it to a 4 or 5 essay to notice its differences. 

When I teach my ACT writing lessons, I do a compare/contrast activity for this reason. The stakes are high enough that it's worth going over a mentor text to see what the expectations are and debunk the idea that it's impossible to complete.

The Bottom Line

I've been tutoring the ACT long enough to recognize the differences between the old and new versions, and even without "teaching to the test", there are easy steps educators can take to help juniors stay at or above the national average and achieve their college dreams. Using even some of these tips will help students be a little more ready on test day, and a lot more grateful that they had you as a teacher.
Are you a teacher who's expecting? Pregnancy can be hard enough, but it's extra challenging when you're an educator due to the various obligations and demands placed upon us. Check out this round-up of tips for pregnant teachers from teacher-moms who have been there!

Dear Pregnant Teachers and Teacher-Partners, 

Congrats! You're going to be a parent, in addition to having "your" kids at school. It's going to be a fun, but sometimes difficult, ride. 

Below is a list of tips specific to teaching that I couldn't find in any baby book or app when I needed them most. Some teacher friends and I are sharing our best ideas to make YOUR journey smoother! 

Are you a teacher who's expecting? Pregnancy can be hard enough, but it's extra challenging when you're an educator due to the various obligations and demands placed upon us. Check out this round-up of tips for pregnant teachers from teacher-moms who have been there!
Our dog totally knew what was going on!
First Trimester
We all know the feeling of "teacher tired", right? The physical exhaustion meets immense to-do list, combined with never-ending stress?

Well friends, sorry to say this, but there's an even lower level of tired, and it's called first trimester hormones. Here are some ways to deal: 

1. Conquer how to go to the bathroom more (or less) often.
Between morning sickness and having to pee, you'll be going more often. You can either get a teacher buddy to watch your class for you, find a similar strategy, or try to go less often by sipping your water and coffee instead of chugging them. (NOTE that I am NOT telling you to drink LESS water. I just mean that you may have to pace yourself a little better than before.)

Tell a coworker who can duck into your classroom if you need to use the restroom (puking). I was lucky - I had another pregnant teacher, and we helped each other out! - Lauralee Moss

2. Change your relationship with food, especially snacking. 
Sure, you knew some foods would be off-limits during pregnancy... but in addition, you may have food cravings, aversions, struggles to eat enough (i.e. morning sickness), or struggles to not eat everything in sight. I actually gained more weight than I should've during first trimester, due to the combination of decreased gym time (caused by my ALL DAY morning sickness) and increased snackage. You may need to change what and when you eat, and that does NOT mean you're being unhealthy! 

My favorite foods were portable ones I could eat in small bites and/or quickly: apple sauce cups, grapes, Wheat Thins, yogurt in tubes, and that sort of thing. 

3. Your brain might explode. 
There is SO much to think about now! Everything from your health (and baby's) to your timeline (like your due date and maternity leave) to gender reveals, nurseries, registries... you get the idea. It can be tempting to just lie on the couch with the internet all night, instead of working on school stuff. (*Raises hand* Guilty...)

Fight your worrying overthinking by limiting your screen time if needed. You have many months until baby is born, and far less time for the kids or teens you'll see when you go to school in the morning!

4. Do NOT wait to...
  • Ask your doc questions, especially with morning sickness, to make sure you're not struggling with something fixable. 
  • Buy a sea band! They might not look cute, but it WORKED for my morning sickness (somewhat), and it can be hidden with enough watches and bracelets. 
  • Start your baby registry gradually (so it doesn't get overwhelming). Go to the store(s) in multiple trips with different people each time. 
  • Tell (certain) people. I regret not telling certain adults sooner, because it meant that I missed out on valid pregnancy advice they could have given me. You don't HAVE to wait until 8-12 weeks for EVERYONE if you don't want to!
Are you a teacher who's expecting? Pregnancy can be hard enough, but it's extra challenging when you're an educator due to the various obligations and demands placed upon us. Check out this round-up of tips for pregnant teachers from teacher-moms who have been there!
The morning when my cravings struck!

Second Trimester 

You know that feeling of a "good" teacher day? The one in which you accomplished everything you wanted AND looked good doing it? That's second trimester in a nutshell. You have comparatively more energy, less symptoms, and a cute bump that's becoming visible. 
Enjoy the burst of energy during the second trimester, but don't over do it. Remember, that it's still just a job, save some energy for after school, too. - Lauren @Teaching in Stripes


1.  You might eat like a Hobbit.
Remember how hobbits eat 6-7 meals a day? (Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, and so on?) You might become the same way, especially if/when your aversions and sicknesses subside. This means you'll likely have to change what you pack to school, when you eat, and WHAT you eat (in order to not inflate like a balloon in a science lab). 

Keep small snacks in your pockets! It's hard for teachers to constantly be eating, but I got really sneaky about popping in M&Ms while I quickly turned my back to do something else. The kids didn't know I was pregnant until the second trimester, so I didn't want to have to explain why I was snacking all day (or change the rules about snacking in my classroom!) so hidden, bite-sized snacks really helped me survive. - Rachel M.


2.  Everyone will react differently. 
You're so excited to tell people (and for more people to recognize your bump), but be prepared to receive the full range of reactions to the news that you're pregnant. 

In particular, be ready to have a poker face if you get...
  • Questions about whether or not you're coming back afterward/next year (blunt, but true)
  • A student (or six) who obsess over your pregnancy and get baby fever 
  • Students, parents, or school people who don't care, are disgusted by babies, and/or want you to "suck it up" (even if not in those words)
  • Parents who need surprising amounts of reassurance (and details) about how your maternity leave will go and if their child will still get a top notch education 
  • Comments about how big you are, questions about when you're due, and unsolicited opinions (no matter what grade/age your students are!)

3. There's suddenly a LOT to do. 
Whether it's dealing with the nursery, a baby shower, the pile of baby books to read, or doctor appointments, be ready for your work/life balance to be tested even further. You may have to do more tasks in small doses to get it all done over several days (instead of in marathons in one sitting). 

I asked for help. At work. At home. I'm the type of person who wants to do everything and do it well, but narrowing down my "to-do" list to the most important tasks and asking friends, co-workers, and family to help with the rest made a world of a difference. - The Reading & Writing Haven


4. Do NOT wait to... 
  • Gradually accumulate maternity clothes. Hit up store sales, garage sales, coupons, and deals; start with basics (like tank tops and pants) and items that mix and match well. Don't drop big bucks all in one store or all in one occasion; your bump grows more slowly than you might think. 
  • Start your sub plans. You'll be SHOCKED at how long this can take to get done, especially since you're chipping away at 6 weeks or more of plans in addition to your normal daily workload! (More on this later, but grab a FREE maternity/paternity leave checklist here!)
Are you a teacher who's expecting? Pregnancy can be hard enough, but it's extra challenging when you're an educator due to the various obligations and demands placed upon us. Check out this round-up of tips for pregnant teachers from teacher-moms who have been there!
Puppy supervised the growing bump closely!

Third Trimester 

You know how all students learn differently? Well, third trimester is a little different for every woman, so teacher-parents may have different experiences from here on out. Whereas my first two trimesters were pretty textbook, the third one wasn't exactly the same as other women in terms of what I felt and when. 

1. You might not be able to get around the classroom easily.
I had a harder time weaving around desks/students, bending/squatting next to their desks for a conference, sitting on the floor (more like getting back up), and walking (waddling) quickly from one place to another. 

Do NOT be shocked when your feet or back give you trouble, and do NOT feel bad if you have to plant yourself in a chair and ask students to come to you, especially in the last month!

Let the kids help you, prepare at the beginning of the third trimester for your sub, rearrange your desks so you can move around easily (not kidding, knocking stuff off student desks with your tummy is a real thing). - Jen White 


2. The shoe struggle gets (even more) real.
I'm pretty religious about my teacher Crocs, but one day they betrayed me: they CAUSED my feet to swell more than other shoes! And then, eventually, my feet swelled enough in the final two weeks that I couldn't put them on, even if I wanted to. Thank God that it was February, and I had a pair of bigger boots that I could wear daily!

Just be ready to buy another pair sometime this trimester. Sorry...

Wear whatever footwear works for you! Even if you're normally a teaching in pumps & pearls kind of mom-to-be, this is the time to allow yourself a compromise of slippers, crocs, or whatever you feel most comfortable (aka - that your feet fit into!) wearing. - Madame Aiello


3. Maternity leave prep takes forever.
Okay, I forewarned you about this above, but now it's really true: parent leave prep CAN take longer than you think, depending on what you are required to leave behind for the substitute teacher, and you want to be super-extra-ready in case baby shows up earlier than you expected. 

This is the time I started labeling my room for the sub (I kept it simple and just taped post it notes to the outside of cabinets and drawers so they knew what was in each one). If you need to leave sub plans, work on them a little each day and try to finish by 35 weeks so you don't have anything to stress about at the end! - Foreman Fun
Pro Tip: Leave your desk clean, well-labeled, and ready for the sub every night of the ninth month, if you can. You never know when your "last day" is, and you don't want to scramble more than necessary on your way to the hospital. 

Make sure those sub plans are ready to go at a moments notice! My youngest son was supposed to be born in mid-October but he was born in September and I worked the entire day I was in labor thinking I was having Braxton-Hicks! - Lisa from Mrs. Spangler in the Middle


4. Do NOT wait to... 
  • Finish thank-you notes. You will NOT want to write these during maternity leave, even if you think you're going to "have more time" then. (Ha... more on that later!)
  • Finish your "go bag". You never know if that baby is coming early!


Keep Reading...
There's a forthcoming blog post from me about teachers on maternity/paternity leave, as well as adoption. In the meantime, you can read more pregnancy blog posts here...


Are you a teacher who is "trying to conceive," or TTC? I know how stressful of a time this can be, so I've compiled a list of helpful tips - with some contributions from other teacher-moms - to help you through this time. Click through to read more.

Dear Teachers-Becoming-Parents:

Isn't it cute when well-meaning doctors, family members, and friends tell you to "just relax" and "cut down on your stress?"

Ha. Funny.

There's no cutting down on stress levels when you already "have" somewhere between 30-180 "kids". In fact, I've known teachers who have left the profession because they were SO convinced that their stress levels from work were going to keep them from conceiving their own children.

And, if we're being honest: I finally got pregnant right when summer vacation started. (Coincidence? I doubt it!)

However, I've also known teachers who have gotten a positive test during all months of the school year, not just in the spring/summer, and launched into parenting with grace. Barring other health factors you may have, your stress levels alone do not HAVE to define your current and future status as a parent. 

Regardless of what time of year it is now (and when you're hoping to get good news), here are a few tips from me and some other teacher friends to help you stay sane during this time.

1. Beware the internet rabbit hole.
There are a lot of books, articles, and internet forums out there for TTC women... and while some of those communities are a good thing, to a point, wallowing in self-pity and other women's sob stories for TOO long can actually have an adverse affect. Don't tred in those spaces for too long at a time, and try not to obsess with comparisons to other people. They don't have your body or your life!

2. Get "stress relief" through movement. 
I'm not good at traditional "stress relief", because no matter what things I do that "should" work, things like massages or exercise never get rid of ALL my stress.

However, the point isn't to get rid of ALL your stress - just some of it! And for me, the best way to do that was by moving and not sitting still, which does not HAVE to require a gym membership. Walking a dog, taking the long route, or anything escapist counts!

Use your lunch time to take a brisk walk or do something that gets you "off campus". It is tough to de-stress when you are in the middle of it. - Samantha Steele

3. Utilize your commute.
The 10-15 minutes I spend in the car to and from work are my most zen. Why? Because it's when I'm limited in how much I can work or multitask.

I have specific playlists for driving "to school" vs. "from school", based on whether I need to wake up or calm down, and you may want to experiment with music, audiobooks, radio, or even silence to unwind.

4. Unplug - somewhere, at some time.
It doesn't have to be full-blown meditation or a dedicated 30 minutes, but you'll feel it adding up if your routine involves some version of non-school relaxation.

Take a moment for yourself during the day. I'm trying hard to learn to meditate, even though it's really not "my thing" and I'm finding that just taking a minute or three to breathe and not let my racing mind control me helps a lot with my stress level. - Madame Aiello

5. Visualize that "last day of school" feeling. 
Imagine your first day or night of summer vacation - no grading, no early wakeup, a silent email inbox, no to-do list (or at least a shorter one). Ahh. 

Now, you might not be able to achieve that depth of freedom and relaxation completely during the school year, but it IS possible to...

  • Silence your inbox for certain periods of time
  • Prep everything by Friday so you can truly "go home" during the weekend
  • Have dedicated grading/not grading time so you can ignore the dark cloud looming above your head for a little while
  • Protect one weekend morning to sleep in!

6. Don't let negative tests ruin your day. 
I've known teachers who were so rattled by a negative pregnancy test that they were visibly unhinged the entire school day. Trust me, I know from experience how devastating ANOTHER negative test can be, but you AND your students will be better off if you can compartmentalize that grief to not affect your students.

My favorite way to think about it was that my students were my "first" kids, so I still needed to be there for them until I could go back home and deal with my feelings there.

7. Practice time management NOW. 
I know... it's annoying when people advise you to "live your life while you still can", or distract you with things you should do "first" before having children. But in addition to your bucket list, there are other things to work on NOW, while you still can.

When you DO get pregnant and/or bring home a baby, your entire routine is going to change. You'll have other things and people demanding your attention, less total time, shorter stretches of uninterrupted time, and sometimes less motivation.

NOW is the time to work ahead on...
  • How efficiently you are (or aren't) getting your grading and lesson planning done
  • Work/life balance, including squeezing in exercise or walking
  • Gradually adding loose, long, or stretchy clothes to your closet (more on this later)
  • Logical division of chores at home between you and your partner
  • Professional development or career tasks (while you still have more time)
  • Any other issues at home or school that are sucking up your time

8.  Don't wait to ask for help.  
I mean this in every sense of the word. I waited too long with a bad OBGYN who wasn't listening to me before switching to a new doctor - and getting pregnant two months later - because I got the right help for the problem I was having.

Don't wait to ask for help from...

  • Your partner, if you need help staying happy, distracted, or sane
  • Your doctor, if you think there could be a medical issue slowing down conception
  • Your colleagues, if you need a hand with work/life balance and stress levels
  • Your students, sort of. They don't need to know about your health per se, but ask yourself if you're doing work that your students should or could be, like peer editing more, helping to keep the classroom clean, etc. 

Keep Reading...
Future blog posts with tips for teachers are forthcoming about pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave, and adoption!
Our students will not have us around forever to help them meet their SMART goals or new years' resolutions, so we need to set them up for success now and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. In this post I explore five different ways that we can help students achieve their goals and resolutions. Some work with a common enemy, some work with student choice, and some work with identifying the root cause. I've included a free teacher resolution download for you, too!

Many of us teachers incorporate SMART goals, growth mindset, perseverance lessons, RTI processes, charting growth with data, or other methods to help our students improve over time.

All of these pursuits are great and CAN work. My only concern with SOME school-led initiatives is that SOME of them do nothing to help student independence.

Moving forward, students might not always have you, that magical graphic organizer, or your programs with them in the future. When my 8th graders move on to high school, I have to at least try to make them independent "enough" that they can identify, tackle, and solve their own problems, and not wait on an adult to do it for (or even with) them.

My proposal is, whether we're setting SMART goals in September or resolutions in January, we need to use processes that will:
  • Help students truly self-identify a goal or problem, 
  • Figure out the best method(s) to achieve it, and
  • Adjust, try again, or get the plan done.
So, how on earth can we do that in a differentiated manner (and with limited classroom minutes)? 

Just as your students and their goals are all different, there won't be one right answer in this post. BUT, here are some ideas to try that might help shake up the goals and resolutions in your room. 

#1: Take a poll and pick a common enemy. 
Hear me out. Yes, I'm all for differentiation and individual goals (keep reading #2-5). And yes, you already know some of the skills or facts that your students need to improve. But student buy-in is SO different if you can tell students that "Your survey results show that you really want to get better at ________, and I'm going to help you do that." 

Use your favorite paper or electronic polling method and ask a simple question: What do you want to get better at before the end of the school year? 

Every time I ask this question, the results are fascinating, and not always what I expect. Maybe your high schoolers have more test-taking anxiety than you realized and need some targeted skill work before a standardized test. Maybe middle schoolers are secretly sweating the amount of note-taking they think they'll have to do in high school. But it's worth finding out what "common enemies" you can tackle as a class!

For example, when we realized that our eighth graders had poor note-taking skills and were conscientious of it, another teacher and I co-taught this Note-Taking Skills Lesson to try multiple note-taking styles and identify what they needed to do differently!

#2: Give a choice project. 
Depending on the amount of time you have, your curriculum, and your objectives (are you addressing academic goals or behavioral ones?), then you might like EITHER... 
  • My Life Skills Project, in which students pick a skill or topic to get better at and move through a planning process to meet and achieve that goal, OR...
Our students will not have us around forever to help them meet their SMART goals or new years' resolutions, so we need to set them up for success now and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. In this post I explore five different ways that we can help students achieve their goals and resolutions. Some work with a common enemy, some work with student choice, and some work with identifying the root cause. I've included a free teacher resolution download for you, too!
A sneak peek of my Life Skills Project!

Either way, the idea is that the fixed time frame of a challenge or project can help make the goal-reaching process seem more tangible, instead of a nebulous "should-do" in their lives.

#3: Get to the root of their academic or behavioral issue. 
One day, in a moment of what I call "spontaneous weirdness", I blurted out to my students that I was tired of their "procrastinitis", and that we needed to find a cure for it ASAP.

Well, like any good middle school metaphor, that concept took off like wildfire until 10 different student "diseases" were born...

Our students will not have us around forever to help them meet their SMART goals or new years' resolutions, so we need to set them up for success now and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. In this post I explore five different ways that we can help students achieve their goals and resolutions. Some work with a common enemy, some work with student choice, and some work with identifying the root cause. I've included a free teacher resolution download for you, too!
The poster component of my Student "Diseases"/ Skills Unit!

... and now, we're doing a skills mini-unit in January together about how to "cure" their diseases once and for all. Find out more about it here!

#4: Give reproducible or keepsake tools that will last.  
I've seen some mighty, amazing graphic organizers that are given to students... once. But not every student is a one-and-done learner, and if they ONLY learn how to write that essay or SMART goal with a specific worksheet, then they might not be able to reproduce those results in the future. 

Consider trying ONE of these in your next semester:
  • Keep more copies publicly available. Print more and display them in a milk crate/hanging file, a binder/folder in the room, or on a bulletin board, so students can grab and go!
  • Always pass out an extra blank one with your assignment. Tell students to use one now, and tuck the other in a special "save forever" section of their binders!
  • Be careful with digital files, though! For one, if you didn't make the graphic organizer, then putting it online might be breaking copyright law (for real!). Also, if you put it in a class website or something, will students ACTUALLY be willing and able to go back there years later? Probably not. Just give them a printed keepsake!

#5: Give students more freedom to get it done their way. 
Yes - shocking - what if we surrendered more control of the process? We do gradual release for other areas of learning, so why insist on gripping tightly to student goals even through high school? 

If you (or at least your students) are ready for some independence, try this FREE Student Resolutions BINGO board, which still helps them pick goals (and have a time element) without stringently clutching to some of the steps in-between.

Our students will not have us around forever to help them meet their SMART goals or new years' resolutions, so we need to set them up for success now and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. In this post I explore five different ways that we can help students achieve their goals and resolutions. Some work with a common enemy, some work with student choice, and some work with identifying the root cause. I've included a free teacher resolution download for you, too!

BONUS: I made a FREE version for you, too! Pick up the Teacher Resolutions Bingo Board in this blog post

What other ideas do you have to help students this year? Tell me in the comments!
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