August 20, 2018

Back to School Basics: 9 Tips to start the year strong

As a middle-school principal, I always looked forward to welcoming students, families and teachers back to school. The new year brings about excitement and challenges for everyone, so it’s important to start on a positive note.


For Students – Success begins with good habits.

  • Control your destiny and ease the tension. Use a planner or smart device to keep track of assignments and maintain responsibility for your time.

Fun Fact: Do this and your parents will definitely lighten up!

  • Avoid the backpack black hole. Every year students lose ground because they cannot find assignments, handouts or their planner. Once a week empty your bags and pouches, organize your folders or binder and make sure you have a couple of pens and pencils that work.
  • Join a club or activity on campus. Interested in art, sports or the environment? Schools as well as local organizations offer great options for everyone. The important thing is to get involved – make new friends, strengthen your skills and keep fun part of the equation.

For Parents – Sanity begins at home.

  • Schedules matter. Kids thrive with predictability. If they know your expectations for home – meal time, where homework gets done and when they can play – life will be much easier.
  • Engage with a Question of the Day. Ask your children something specific about the day, like “What did you learn today? or, “What made you happy today?” And you should share too! The connections you have rise with importance each year.
  • Join the PTA at all levels of schooling. This is a great way to get to know the teachers and staff that spend as much time with your kids as you do. In addition, it helps you know what’s going on in your child’s world, so you can support them.

For Educators – Mix it up.

  • Same course load? Develop new content to teach your course objectives. Burnout happens as a result of not staying fresh and open to new ways of doing things. TGREDU: Explore offers a variety of free STEM and college-access resources including digital modules, lesson plans, a virtual field trip and more.
  • Implement youth voice. Consider how you can incorporate youth voice into your daily routine. More than creating class expectations, allowing students to be active participants in their own learning will have big payoffs in classroom achievement.
  • Hermit no more. Educators are notorious for avoiding the lunch room and hiding out in classrooms. If you are one of those people, make it a point to go outside, walk the halls and get some fresh air. It will help your outlook and improve your day.


Redefining what it means to be a champion.