January 5, 2016

Plan For a Successful Year

This time of year, New Year's resolutions are a common topic of conversation. Many resolve to make better decisions. Commonly, resolutions involve establishing healthier lifestyles, finishing a few good books, spending more (or less) time with family and friends, completing an education or training program, or saving for the future. As we learn, we should do things differently... right? This cross-cultural colloquialism rings true to education approaches and, more importantly, to learning. Who can argue with Dr. Angelou?

Today's post is intended to encourage and inspire readers to reclaim your time in 2016.  Emphasis is on identifying and resolving ineffective parental engagement, instructional, and learning strategies by taking a closer look at your success plan.

Generally, successful people have schedules. These tools make the best use of time and prioritize chaos. With my parents and kids (not my biological parents and kids, but my clients) I've experienced a common phenomenon: though many have adopted some sort of schedule to balance curriculars, extracurriculars, and family time... schedule disruptions are a challenge. I struggle with this as well!

 I need more time.

In light of Murphy's Law - if anything can go wrong, it will - keeping lists of tasks, events, meetings, people, and research topics is essential. Getting organized helps us respond to scheduling challenges more effectively; they work hand-in-hand.  Setting a schedule and adopting an organization structure help families recover from the emergencies and tempting opportunities that hijack our lives.

Organization that works: Schedule time to review your schedule and growing lists of tasks, events, etc. During the process, consider questions like these...
  1. Is this event scheduled next quarter or next year?
  2. What's keeping me from connecting with Mr. X?
  3. How can I adjust to make progress on research topics?
Plan: First, update the schedule of events after reaching out to schools, teachers, parent organizations, social and athletic club sponsors, or educational service organizations. You may have missed that too-good-to-miss event, but nothing's stopping you from making next year's program.

Connect: Start making calls and drafting emails. Plan these activities outside of peak times when people are more likely to respond or make themselves available. For instance, it's best to connect with classroom teachers during the 2nd and 6th weeks of a 9-week period; they are more likely to have student data that you can leverage before it's too late in the term. Waiting until the week before midterms and final exams to access information on your child's performance has one primary challenge: teachers are more stressed. This isn't an infallible solution, but it's a good way to build a partnership. If you've tried these and experienced little success, show up. Consider other avenues leading to the same result. The take-home point here is to avoid derailment by remaining persistent and taking action early on.

Research: This is the first task to lose rank in the list of priorities. Parents forgo researching summer programs only to learn that enrollment for the-program-of-the-summer has a waiting list by the middle of Spring semester. Educators who forgo researching professional development opportunities early on become frustrated as deadlines pass and waiting lists grow. It's easy, in our fast-paced society, to favor immediate gratification over investing time and effort into researching effective and expedient ways to accomplish goals. To avoid this trap, schedule time to review your schedule... Yes, schedule time to review your schedule. Maintaining electronic schedules makes for easy implementation of these suggestions, because you have an editable record of what you've done, notes on how things went, and plans for the future. Use this data to make better decisions.

Jackson Education Support helps learners and families tweak organization structures and schedules related to improving academic performance, increasing confidence, and moving into more challenging environments. Personalized learning plans are developed to get clients on track - and revised to keep them on track - toward achieving short- and long-term goals. Learning plans involve varying degrees of parental involvement based on client need and family dynamic.

If you'd like to work with an educational support professional to make better decisions this year, schedule a free consult here.