Category Archives: Academics

Decisions, decisions… we make them all day, every day. Did you ever notice that we can often tell as much about a person by the way she makes decisions than by what she decides? According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, we all fall into one of two camps: Thinking (T) types make decisions based on objective facts, logic, and reason, while Feeling (F) types are guided more by personal concerns, values, and relationships.   Thinking people make decisions with their heads, not their hearts. Relying heavily on logic elementary principles, Thinkers like to weigh pros and cons without allowing personal issues to influence the decision making process. Thinking types prefer fact-based, objective instruction with clear course objectives. Seek out logical reasons to engage in learning Be diplomatic with teachers and peers so as to avoid misunderstandings Before you challenge an idea, be sure to consider all possibilities   Feeling people…

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Sports coaches seem to know a lot more about planning for success than the rest of us. How else could you explain their nearly universal success at getting teens to prepare diligently every day for months in advance for a test that might not ever even take place? Most teachers would sacrifice a month of summer for that level of commitment from their students, right? (OK, maybe a week of summer at most…) Athletic coaches, aided of course by the allure of American sports culture, tend to be excellent at eliciting the behaviors required for incremental improvement over time. We can credit a collective acceptance of the aphorism, “You play like you practice,” but should also look beyond that to understand why teen athletes are willing to do whatever it takes to be ready on game day: everyone understands that you cannot become an elite athlete overnight. Well before a…

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Most adult music lovers have heard of John Cage, the pioneering American composer. But even if you don’t know anything about Cage’s copious musical contributions, you can learn from this avant garde influencer’s impact on education. Sister Corita Kent, a personal friend of Cage, credits him with inspiring a list of rules for both teachers and students that has, in turn, inspired very many others. Education, like all other arts, is a process that demands the best work of its collaborators to produce the finest results. Whether you are a student or a teacher (or more likely both), consider applying these clear rules to your craft:   RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while. RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students. RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull…

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Every waking moment of the day, particularly at school, we are bombarded by information. To make sense of this storm of stimuli, each of us creates filters, protocols by which we prioritize what type of information we prefer to focus on. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator splits us into two groups: Sensing people tend to pay attention to what their five senses tell them, while Intuitive types focus on underlying patterns. Sensing types draw upon common sense and direct experience to deal with problems. They are most concerned with the present moment and that which is palpable, concrete, and real. Often detail-oriented and rule-focused, Sensors prefer to understand concepts at the smallest level of understanding, then expand into a bigger picture. Sensing types prefer to learn a new task by being shown how to do it. Break down new material step by step Think of real life examples of abstract concepts…

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Despite spending seemingly interminable days at school or doing homework, teens aren’t necessarily learning everything they need for happy, productive lives. Some may even argue that an emphasis on academia overlooks the most important life skills. Melanie Pinola put together a terrific list of Top 10 Skills We Wish Were Taught In School, But Usually Aren’t that is worth a look. Here are her top 10: 1. How To Apply For Jobs And Handle Interviews 2. Mental Health 3. Basic Self-Defense 4. Negotiation Skills 5. Survival Skills 6. Basic Money Management 7. Study Skills (Or Learning How To Learn) 8. Time Management Techniques 9. Speed Reading 10. Computer Science Of course, we work with students on some of these essential skills while our partners cover others. And some of these skills are way outside our scope of service. I generally agree with the author’s findings, but find little evidence that Speed Reading has any…

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Mid-July may be slow when it comes to professional sports, but interpreting national, state, and local SAT scores has become something of a sport in its own right. Around here, we’re poring over the Rochester Business Journal Schools Report Card, trying to make sense of what all these numbers mean. Are you wondering the same thing? One a granular level, score averages probably don’t mean as much as you think… just because your teen goes to a school with high average SAT scores doesn’t guarantee that her scores are impressing colleges. Fortunately, the inverse applies as well. But understanding some of the benchmarks provides context for individual score goals and achievements. A superficial review of national and state averages might have some New Yorkers running to their realtors for out-of-state listings: 2013 National Averages SAT Reading: 496 SAT Math: 514 SAT Writing: 488 2013 New York State Averages SAT Reading:…

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