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Support Beyond the Classroom

Angela Keef, M. Ed.
In this post, Angela Keef, Director of Center for Academic Achievement (CAA) at Tilton School, discusses steps necessary for making sure students are best supported.
Many schools have support beyond the classroom for all students. Here at Tilton, the Center for Academic Achievement  (CAA) exists to assist students in reaching their full potential in all aspects of life. Whether a student just needs extra support with study skills, wants to improve their writing skills or has a diagnosed learning challenge, the CAA provides the support necessary to assist students in meeting their personal goals and the goals of the Tilton curriculum.
Before students even arrive to campus, there are things that can be done to really “prime” your brain for a great learning experience. One thing we know from our decades of advancement in cognitive neuroscience is that the human mind is highly variable and plastic. Not one brain is like any other, and humans have the capacity to develop their brains over time. Things like good nutrition, exercise and sleep can impact our brains and how we function in tremendous ways. Here are five things that you can do right now to help get your brain ready for learning!
Have a growth mindset
At Tilton, we firmly believe that all students can learn! Start talking to yourself in positive ways and practice using a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this”, try saying “ This is hard, but if I keep working at it, I will figure it out.” Visualize a brick wall vs. a tree. A fixed mindset is a brick wall, while a growth mindset is a tree. Changing your internal voice can have a great impact on your mental attitude and drive.

Think of it as a challenge
Think about a learning difference as a “challenge” rather than a disability. If reading is difficult, see it as a challenge to figure out how you can make it easier. Think of the other abilities you have that can help you compensate. For instance, people with ADHD tend to be able to think very creatively and come up with out of the box ideas. Don’t focus on the negative, focus on the positive attributes.

Practice mindfulness
Try to practice being in the present-the here and now. Appreciate the moment. Put down your cell phone and go for a walk outside. When someone is speaking to you, put your phone down, look them in the eye and be present in the conversation. Your support teachers and classroom teachers expect that you will be able to “be in the moment” with them. You Practice this skill now with your friends and family.

Self-advocate and know yourself
Can you talk about what your particular strengths and challenges  might be? Do you know what has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t? One part of becoming a stronger learner is being able to advocate for your needs. Make a list of 5 strategies that have worked for you in the past and 5 that haven’t worked for you. For instance, maybe listening to audiobooks really helps you with your reading comprehension, or you could really use extra time on quizzes, but making flashcards to memorize vocabulary hasn’t really worked in the past. Your support teacher will ask you about these things.
Organize and gather supplies
Make sure you have what you need for study supplies: notebooks, folders, paper, pens, pencils, calculator, index cards, etc. Try color coding. Use yellow for your English notebook, a yellow folder for handouts, as well as yellow tags on your computer, Google Classroom and planner. Using color to visually organize can make finding things easier and helps you to plan and structure yourself.
If you have questions, would like more information about any of the above tips, or would like to know more about the Center for Academic Achievement at Tilton School, please feel free to call us at 603-286-1753 or email the Director of the Center for Academic Achievement Angela Keef at akeef@tiltonschool.org.
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