From One Procrastinator to Another

 

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

I almost did not write this blog, I just kept putting it off, putting it off and putting it off.  I finally decided to make a procrastination acrostic with statements and thoughts that hopefully can be helpful to you if you have issues with being a procrastinator.

 

Procrastination is a problem of self-regulation.

Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is an important step.

Opt out of putting things off by saying, “I will do it tomorrow.”

Coping mechanism for a lot of people.

Really would rather play video games or do something else.

All people procrastinate sometimes, you are not alone.

Set goals and list the steps needed to meet them.

Time management skills development (use a planning device).

I work better under pressure! Is that really true for you?

Nice to have someone who will help keep you on track (an accountability partner).

Adopt anti-procrastination strategies like a daily to-do list.

Treat or reward yourself for getting something done early or on time.

Idleness is okay sometimes (we all need a break from our pressures).

Opt out of looking for distractions, so you don’t have to do your needed task.

Never give up on improving your procrastination habits!

Famous American patriot, Ben Franklin, once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” but well-known American author, Mark Twain, also stated, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

It’s your choice which advice you will follow!  All the best to my fellow procrastinators!

Your High School Experience: Years From Now, Will You Be Thinking, Redo?

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

For some of us, a trip back to high school means going back in time, for some (like myself) at least 40 years! What’s interesting though, is that I have a very vivid memory of those high school years. I can easily remember my many wonderful teachers and friends, but it was the high school experience that really stuck with me and pushed me to further my education.

I feel fortunate to be able to hold onto those great memories of fun times and great friends, and not look back wishing that I could redo my experience.

Much of this has to do with my experience during this time. High school was a time of expanding my knowledge base beyond the core academics of English, math, science and social studies. I had the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded public education that included many electives in areas outside my core classes. Forty years later, I am still proud of what I accomplished during my time, but even more grateful for the excellent teachers who invested in me during this time in my life.

To avoid the pitfall of wishing for a redo, I offer this advice: Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Venture into the unknown areas of the curriculum that you never thought you’d try. Take as many advantages of this learning experience as you can, because you can. No one can stop you from trying out for any of the sport teams or plays, or speech debates that are available to all students.

This advice may seem intimidating, but it starts with small steps:

  • Start early. If there is any way you can get into a program at your future high school the summer following your last year in middle school, do it. This could be participating in a weight lifting program during the summer. If the school offers drama, music or speech opportunities during this time, take advantage of them. This will give you a chance to meet fellow students before the school year starts, it also gets you involved right away in activities offered at your high school.
  • Each quarter or semester, remind yourself of your priorities and goals. You are there to get the best education and learning the school has to offer. What grades will you demand of yourself? Build a study schedule and then adjust according to degree of difficulty as you go through the year. Once you reach a goal, cross it off and establish a new one. Push yourself to accomplish any goals set.
  • Take advantage of unexpected experiences as they come your way. You never know when an opportunity becomes available and if it does, be willing to take advantage of it.  For example, school announcements mention great experiences for students, whether it is an opportunity to volunteer at the recycling center or to audition for a school play. Take a chance, get involved and you’ll find that stretching your experiences pays a benefit to yourself and usually expands your skill set.
  • Keep a record of your “beyond the classroom” experiences. After high school, you may be looking for employment before taking on the next educational experience, so keeping track of any community or volunteering activities you participated in, can put you in the driver’s seat of employment opportunities.

High school is a time to grow your experiences, your own learning opportunities and develop social and developmental relationships all around yourself. Forty years from now, you do not want to be that person that says, “I should have participated in the band. I should have gone out for wrestling. I should have participated in debate.”

Go out and make it happen.

Biding Your Time: The College Application Process

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Patience, internal fortitude, self-control and poise are all traits required when waiting for a college admissions letter. After all, the past year was spent studying, completing forms, preparing for important tests, writing essays, reading college websites, consulting with college admissions advisers and visiting campuses – one more time. 

 

It’s been a very busy time and now you are checking the mailbox daily for any letter that could contain good news from the multiple applications submitted. The formal acknowledgement is just around the corner—and it will be one of the first big decisions of your life. You will finally get to say, “YES! This is it, I’m going to ____________!”

 

Congratulations, if you’re an Early Decision or Early Action Admission letter recipient. Congratulations, if you have received a letter of intent and/or will be invited to National Signing Day. Congratulations, if you have been awarded a college scholarship. However, be advised that only a few colleges begin notifying students in mid-December to the end of winter (as early as late February). Be assured that many colleges load the mailboxes in March to late spring, and the most competitive colleges allow their applicants to test their patience until April Fool’s Day or later. Rolling college admissions is an ongoing process.

 

In the meantime, what should you do?

 

1.       Check online to review the status of your application.

2.       Check to see if pieces are missing from the application (e.g., order the necessary transcript, test score report or request a recommendation letter).

3.       Call the college if you do not receive an email confirmation within 10 days to three weeks after submitting the application.

 

Chill-lax. Waiting for a college acceptance letter means you are just like thousands of other students worldwide.

 

What’s Your Hangtag?

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Along with academic advising of students and parents at the UNHS, I enjoy shopping and comparing products and services in stores and online. Of course, it is exciting when I have found the best price, but I also make sure to look at the merchandise or service carefully. The hangtag always grabs my attention, because it usually conveys the price, the designer or manufacturer of the product and much more important information needed to make your buying decision.

So how do you convey to someone why they should “buy” into what you are saying? I personally think we each have an invisible hangtag that explains our professional branding image to each person we meet. I personally want my hangtag to tell others that I am a hard worker and that I care about my students. Everyone’s hangtags are different—we all have unique styles and brand images that separate us from others.

Even though we cannot all wear a physical hangtag, we can all take steps to make sure we are communicating to others our positive and professional brand image, one that stands out from the others.

How to live your hangtag:

  • Actively think about how you want others to see you.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Separate your professional life and personal opinions.
  • Learn from your coworkers or colleagues.
  • Surround yourself with those who can help you grow.
  • Talk positively.
  • Ask for constructive feedback and make changes accordingly.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have great online etiquette.

What would your hangtag say?

Technology – Should We Be Worried?

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

I am fascinated by the technology and its prevalence among our youth. I am envious as I watch many students and some adults type away so easily on their hand held devices, their thumbs are moving over these screens like expert typists! I, on the other hand, struggle with texting on my iPhone. Ten minutes after I have finally completed my six to ten words, I am proud to hit send.

When I am in public, I look around and can see that the majority of the people around me are usually on their cell phones. There are times I’ve wondered, should we be worried about this mesmerizing kind of obsession on these devices? Is this fixation really good for all of us? Isn’t this a wasted opportunity for human to human interaction? Should we be worried?

Will we raise a generation of students who have never really seen the sky because they don’t look up from their screens as they stumble along on the streets and sidewalks? Even as students walk in packs, they are all focusing on their own devices and in many instances, are actually texting and communicating to the person right next to them, instead of using the verbal language. Thus, I am sometimes concerned that students aren’t practicing much in the way of verbal and conversational skills that often come with more richness and quality of exchanges. Should we be worried?

I continue to try to deal with and learn the newer technology, feeling that I’m just getting further behind with all the new advances. I’ve noticed that my students are like sponges with this stuff, as they pick up the newest apps and latest devices with ease. I do love to see their quick ability to adapt to all these changes that push and tug at me constantly. So, should we be worried?

I am not going to worry. I have faith that when each student needs to discover the sky and the world around them, they’ll look up.

I have confidence that they will continue to learn, perhaps learn more than one thinks, and be able to communicate with these devices so that others understand them. We are more connected today with others all over the world because of these devices, but I hope we’ll also learn and understand that there is relevance and importance in speaking directly to others, conversing and expressing yourself verbally. And for those of us that came into this world slightly later than the devices, we’ll continue to be able to observe, listen, talk, and discuss how these devices are helping, hindering and stretching our own growth and learning.

And to parents with kids and even to teachers alike, this request: please, please reflect on when and where you and your children are using these devices so that you don’t lose opportunities to connect in the most human of ways with your kids/students—through daily conversation with them! 

Hello, Is Anyone Listening?

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

I read a brief article from the publication The Master Teacher (Volume 48, No. 24), a series of professional development brochures that administrators and teachers can sign up to receive throughout the school year. This particular brochure talked about the importance of teaching listening skills. The article titled, Teaching Students a Neglected Life and Literacy Skill, had me reflecting on my own listening skills. Yes, we often teach the importance of reading, writing and speaking, but the listening skills are often taken for granted—and we can do something about that.

There are a number of strategies that we can use with students on a daily basis to improve our listening skills and make our teaching more effective for them.

  • Stop and make time to listen. You may have heard the expression, “be fully present”. This is particularly important in listening to others. It’s necessary to block out all the distractions and the noise around you. People can tell when you are fully present.
  • Make eye contact. You don’t need to stare at the person every minute, however strong eye contact shows you are paying attention and care about what the other person is talking about.
  • Practice empathy. Taking another’s position or point of view is difficult for us sometimes. By simply putting yourself in their shoes for a while, you can get a feel for what they are expressing and more importantly, why they feel this way. This is missing in lots of the political debates going on right now.
  • Ask questions. By asking questions, the listener is gathering more detail to better understand what the other party is saying. Ask questions that are inquisitive, insightful and intelligent—ones that truly help you understand the other person.

Listening has become an even more critical skill in our daily life these days as we are forced to make hundreds of decisions and many times, with little data or little time. Think about your daily conversations with the people around you—do you really use these strategies?

If you focus on being a better listener, good things happen—good luck!

Other resources: Leadership For Teenagers by Carol Carter and Maureen Breeze, 2011, p.125.”

Peace at Last – A Career Odyssey

Barbara
Barbara Wolf Shousha, UNHS Director

“When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace.” —Hyrum Smith, co-founder Franklin Covey

My first research report was for my middle school science class. I cannot remember the actual topic but I remember visiting the main public library (life before the internet for you young ones!) where I was awed by the reference librarians and the abundant amount of material. I felt thrilled to read, make notes and cross-reference!

As an adult, I studied educational theory and wrote a thesis on educational philosophy. I spent hours alone in school archives and I LOVED it!  I remember when the ideas started to come together so fast I could barely record them. I would read through documents for hours, my only human interaction being brief exchanges with the archivist, “I’d like box two, folder six of this collection please.” I was incredibly happy and filled with energy.

In my career, I worked as an instructional designer for corporations and felt that same thrill taking apart complex information and re-structuring it for learners. It didn’t matter what the content was, I was on a mission to make it clear and useful.

As much as I loved some of the challenges of my professional life, my career just felt “off” sometimes. My academic interests were abstract and idea driven and my corporate career felt too bottom-line and pragmatic. Finally, when my last corporate job ended, I resolved to find an environment that would be a good fit for me—that was when I joined the University. At last, my academic interests, my work life and my existential nerdiness are in congruence and it feels terrific!

This week I was in a meeting listening to faculty and instructional designers discuss changes to a Biology grading rubric. As they talked, everyone in the room grew more and more excited, “Yes! That will definitely help the learner!” and “This will give the student confidence to take on the more difficult concepts!” I watched them in real-time applying Bloom’s Taxonomy in the service of others and I smiled. These are my people and I am free to let my nerd light shine.

So I implore you to take note of your everyday activities—whether in work or academics—and fit these with your highest priorities and passions in life. You will be amazed at the amount of energy and peace you will experience when your daily work is aligned with what you value most.