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Academics

How to Survive Remote Learning

The 2020-2021 school year has officially kicked off for many students.  Here in Texas several schools began school this week, with just about all of them offering a remote-only option.  My school is one of them, and we had a very successful first day. As other schools begin the reopening process, it is apparent that remote learning will be with us in some capacity for the foreseeable future.  As discussed in my previous post, remote learning offers students safety measures during this pandemic; however, it also presents some challenges even for the most conscientious student. I wanted to share with [...]

Returning to School in the Age of COVID-19

With the 2019-2020 school year firmly behind us, it’s now time to figure out what’s in store for 2020-2021.  As of today, there are now over 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States alone.  And that has many parents asking, “What is the plan for school this fall?” I can assure you that schools all over the world are still asking this same question even as we approach the looming start of the school year.  The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about 10 days ago that have already been changed and updated as of yesterday.  Just when [...]

The Transition to Online Learning

Like just about everyone else in the United States (and most parts of the world), I’m currently on lockdown in my house.  I’m hopeful we can get back to normal in the not-too-distant future, but until then, I’m learning to adapt to this new reality.  The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented some unique challenges for all of us, and I’m hopeful that you and your family are doing ok during this time. On March 23 our school made the transition to online learning for at least 2 weeks.  That 2-week period was eventually extended to 3 weeks, and recently we [...]

Can My IQ Change?

  The term IQ has been around for over 100 years.  But what exactly does IQ mean?  And how does it relate to kids in school today? In the early 20th Century, statisticians and psychologists began attempting to quantify the idea of intelligence.  Through a series and iterations of various tests and experiments, the term “Intelligence Quotient” was coined in an attempt to assign a number to one’s intellectual ability. During World War I, the government used various measures to “test” recruits to determine which tasks they were best suited.  At this time the rise of IQ testing took off, [...]

How to Set Achievable Goals

Although New Year’s is in our rearview mirror and we are well into 2020, many of us are still working on our New Year’s resolutions.  For some this may be to lose weight.  For others it may be to get finances in order.  But for many students, the goal this time of year is to bring grades up, get into college, or score high on the SAT or ACT. Before achieving a goal, however, it is important to understand how to set yourself up for success.  It is no coincidence that many New Year’s resolutions taper off in February and [...]

How to Handle Transition

I hope you are all enjoying your summers!  It’s been a great one for me and my family so far; we enjoyed a week on the coast in Connecticut and are preparing to head off to San Diego for another week on the beach.  How can I complain? But in the midst of my summer break, I am dealing with a huge transition in my life.  This past spring I was promoted from high school counselor to head of our middle school.  My last post talked about this new role, and it is a great opportunity for me to continue [...]

Film Review – Race to Nowhere

This past Sunday I was invited to a screening of the documentary, Race to Nowhere, and sit on a discussion panel afterwards.  This particular event was hosted by a private K-8 school in Austin, and it was a chance for parents to 1) see the film, and 2) discuss the issues raised.  I was very impressed with the level of engagement by the parents in attendance and the questions they had. This particular documentary was released in 2010.  It focuses on the rise in anxiety and depression as a result of increased academic demands on students.  The issues included increased [...]

Test Taking Tips for Final Exams

Only 2 weeks of school to go!  But before we dismiss for the winter break, many students must endure and conquer fall final exams.  While final exams are essentially non-existent for elementary students, many middle-school and almost all high-school students must prepare for these major exams.  But preparing is only half the battle.  How can a student effectively take the exam once the preparation is over?  Here are my top test taking tips for final exams. Make sure you have the correct exam. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen students discover they have been taking the wrong final exam [...]

The Role of the High School Counselor

What, exactly, does a high school counselor do? During the past two weeks, I was visiting my wife’s family up in Connecticut.  In addition to escaping the Texas heat and spending time at the beach, I also met up with one of my best friends, who is a teacher at a prestigious private school in CT.  He was having a cook-out at his house, and several of his colleagues were also there. New England private schools tend to have a much different personnel set-up than ours in Texas, and I got into an interesting conversation with their school’s Director of [...]

The Best Subject to Review This Summer is…

  With record high temperatures for this time of year in Austin already occurring, it’s clear that summer is just around the corner.  Final exams are underway, and pretty soon students will be free for the summer.  While it’s important for students to take a mental break after a grueling 9-month academic tour de force, it’s also beneficial for students to continue developing their academic skills over the summer. The balance between doing too much and doing nothing over the summer can be tricky.  Trying to fit academic activities in along with summer camps, vacations, community service, and just plain-old [...]

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