How to be an Academic All-Star in Middle School

Striving for academic excellence in middle school is an important piece of preparing for the high school transition. The three year, Beacon Middle School journey intentionally focuses on ready-ing each learner for all aspects of his or her future. Obviously, success in the classroom is a primary pillar of this exciting chapter. The following tips are designed to help you maximize your academic performance, as a strong showing in this area will increase your opportunities far beyond middle school. These tools and practices will prove beneficial for years to come if you commit to mastering each habit listed below now. Hard work, tenacity, and resilience are irreplaceable cornerstones that typically lead to academic success; there is not a magic formula that results in perfect grades. With thoughtful, consistent preparation and strong organization habits, you will dramatically increase your chances of earning high grades not only in middle school, but in high school, college, and beyond. 

1. Schedule your time wisely.

Using a daily planner, like the annual Beacon Network planner all students receive the first week of each new school year, or installing a smart phone scheduling app, will assist you in organizing your assignments and activities. Enter your daily tasks, including details such as class assignments, projects, practices, and social obligations. Write important dates including holidays, birthdays, and school events as soon as they are made available. You will have several large, extended assignments, such as a quarterly project or a 5-paragraph paper, during middle school. These significant academic benchmarks will require an extended amount of time, and will give you the chance to create an extended completion plan. Include reminders in your planner or calendar app to reach those milestones along the way and you will see how your final product reflects you best work due to thoughtful planning and time management. 

2. Talk with your teachers.

Most elementary students are assigned to one primary teacher, and several others like Specials teachers, a Media Specialist and often a Tech instructor. In this setting, students spend most of their days with one designated adult. Middle school is dramatically different, as students move from one class to another, seeing 5 to 8 instructors daily. At both Beacon Network Schools, students are assigned to a 1st Period grade level advisory class to begin each day. This time is dedicated to assisting students in adjusting to the expectations and demands of middle school, while providing them with a consistent mentor to guide them through some of the transitions and challenges unique to the early teen years. Advocating for oneself is important when working to improve and maximize your classroom outcomes. Talking to your teachers, even scheduling a time if necessary, may be awkward at first but is vital to your success. Remember, your teachers are invested in your success too. They will respect and appreciate your courage and initiative.

3. Participate regularly in each class.

Actively participating in class is an important part of achieving your best performance and earning solid grades in middle school. In most setting, points are earned for actively engaging in the classroom and contributing to discussions and activities. When appropriate, ask questions and provide answers. All students should encourage themselves to raise their hands during a lesson at least once, as this will eventually become routine and far less uncomfortable. Beacon Network Schools promote Curiosity as one of our character pillars. Students are recognized for developing and demonstrating this trait. Therefore, our students understand the importance of coming to class each day prepared to learn, question, investigate, and master specific concepts. The more you can learn and absorb, the less you need to study later independently or seek one-on-one assistance.

4. Develop a homework routine and stick with it!

While today’s homework is viewed as an opportunity to further practice the skills and concepts introduced in class, as opposed to an extensive completion of several hours of additional work each evening, there is great value in successfully learning to structure your out-of-school time. Out-of-class assignments should be a high priority and time must be designated to one’s academic obligations. While homework is not typically enjoyable and often there are other activities and family commitments teens are responsible for, finding a quiet, organized space to do this work will be incredibly helpful. Consider making a habit of doing your homework and studying daily, as this will benefit you in the years ahead. Select a time for your academics in the afternoon or evening, and clear your calendar accordingly. Schedule short 10 to 15 minute breaks after every hour to increase your focus and productivity level.

5. Find friends who can double as “Study Buddies.”

Develop a solid friendship circle early on in your middle school career. These important connections will aid you in your efforts to create a positive, supportive environment that will ultimately increase your productivity and ideally, your grades. Most Beacon students understand the importance of working with their peers in the classroom in order to be successful, and we believe in collaboration and teamwork. Students who are active members of their campus communities tend to earn higher academic marks, as the joy and energy they feel and share is contagious and spills over into all aspects of their daily experience. Participating in after-school sports, fine arts offerings, and other extracurricular activities will help you meet new people and expand your pool of potential friends. When you feel completely alone at school, you will have trouble focusing in class, which typically results in lower grades. When you prepare well for each school day, and create these new connections, you will not only improve your grades, but you will feel more comfortable, resulting in a healthier, happier middle school experience.