The importance of the first nine weeks

by Brittany Gilbert

School is well under way, and maybe you’re wondering how to keep your student on track for the duration of the school year. In my experience, the first semester is crucial in creating good habits and staying successful.

Teachers can experience the same feelings as their students. Before school starts, we buy all of the cool notebooks and the new pens. We get giddy about the new organizational materials we can use. Okay, maybe that’s just the teachers. For the first few weeks of school, we are determined to stay on top of everything and be on our best behavior.

When students see their mid-nine weeks grades, they are usually satisfied with their work and decide they can relax a little. That’s when it happens. The new wears off and the class work becomes more challenging.

It’s usually around the nine-week grade mark when students realize they have neglected their work and slacked off too much. I’ve counseled far too many students who struggle to bring up their grade and are either failing or close. There are ways to be proactive.

Make goals and keep up with them. Encourage or challenge your student to maintain all A’s and B’s or even all A’s. Maybe you don’t want to focus on grades but you want them to complete and turn in all homework on time. Goals should be encouraged, and your student should be held accountable and possibly even rewarded. The good grade is great, but so is a trip to get ice cream after they’ve reached a goal.

Encourage your student to set personal goals for themselves and talk to them about the benefit of goal setting.

Keep up with homework. I can’t tell you how many students would neglect homework all together because they felt if they aced the test, they would make up for the classwork. That’s a lot to gamble, and they were almost always disappointed in this approach.

Homework adds up and is usually easy; it’s a review from what was learned in class. Most teachers don’t assign homework to make their students’ lives miserable but instead to help them understand the material better. Remember, teachers are the ones having to grade all of this work, so we don’t assign homework because we think it’s fun to grade.

Study. We all know it’s important and most of us don’t like to do it, but it really makes the difference. And you know what? Doing homework makes studying a lot easier because the material isn’t foreign to you. If you neglect homework and try to cram all of the test information the night before the test, you risk being exhausted and unable to focus the day of the test.

Keep an agenda. One of my favorite ways for parents to be involved in their student’s education is to have them keep up with an agenda. I’ve seen many forms but it is simply a journal of what was done at school that day. Every day, these students came to me with their agenda (sometimes in notebook form and sometimes just a page with a small box for each class), and I would sign off on what they did in class that day. These do not have to be fancy by any means. You don’t need to buy any special calendar or notebook; however, it does need to be something a student can keep up with, and this way it will teach them to be responsible.


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].