This blog post summarizes some great insights from "The Power of Change" chapter in our Academic Success Formula book.
At Tutor Doctor, we understand that keeping track of our goals and responsibilities can be difficult. When it comes to organizing our lives, completing our highest priority tasks, and proactively managing our time, most of us are somewhat inconsistent – especially students! The fact is, it’s surprisingly common for highly advanced students to struggle with courses – not for academic reasons, but due to lack of organization. We hear it from parents all the time – their student is great at math, but he’s still failing algebra for some reason. These core organizational skills that students often lack are referred to as “executive functions.”
Executive functioning skills are essentially your ability to manage time, keep track of tasks, and remain organized throughout your daily life. When it comes to students, we like to say there are two components to academic success: academic foundations and academic discipline. All students need a balance of both to be successful, but no two students are the same. This is precisely what led to the development of Tutor Doctor’s X-Skills Game Plan, which focuses on honing these vital skills.
So how does one make a game plan? Well, it can be simply accomplished with a standard day-planner type calendar. The key is to prep the calendar on Sunday evening by building an outline of the upcoming week’s activities. Then, during the school day, the student needs to capture those high priority tasks that bring them closer to their overall academic goal. At Tutor Doctor, we call these Alpha tasks. Alpha tasks can range from finishing large projects to studying for upcoming exams – but planning for a due date and managing the steps to completion is universally required.
We also recommend that students make a list of important tasks or activities that need to be considered, but are not absolutely essential for academic success. At Tutor Doctor, we like to call these Beta tasks. This could refer to after school sports practices, club participations, weekend activities, etc.
Finally, students should create a “Before Departing School” checklist. We recommend using a colored index card to make this really stand out – you can even laminate the card if you’d like! It is critical that your student physically read this checklist every day before leaving school. Although many of our students swear they can fully prepare themselves from memory, the evidence says otherwise. It is just too common for students to forget materials at school, leaving behind a certain book or resource that is needed for an assignment.
It’s also important to make a “Before School” checklist. Believe it or not, it’s very common for students to complete homework but not receive any credit. How might this be possible? By leaving the assignment on the living room table the night before! Younger students have a knack for forgetting assignments at home, so it’s always a good idea to run through these checklists.
Tutor Doctor’s X-Skills program encompasses all the techniques your student needs to develop their executive functioning skills. From color coding to specialized planners, we’ve developed award-winning approaches to cater to a student’s individual needs. We recognize that academic discipline is a little more complicated than just writing things down, as it includes time management, sustained attention, following through on tasks, and working memory – all rolled into one!
Tutor Doctor’s X-Skills Game Plan is a straightforward, calendar-based agenda which incorporates a specific process to capture all a student’s tasks in a prioritized manner, develop a workable plan to execute those tasks, and provide accountability for the student to follow throughout the week. Click here to learn more about the Tutor Doctor X-Skills Game Plan!