About the Author Kaplan is the world's largest, most successful test preparation company, with 185 centers and 1,200 satellite locations worldwide. Top markets include Metro and Upstate NY, Los Angeles, Illinois/Indiana, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, Michigan, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Southern Connecticut, Central Florida, Houston, Minneapolis, North and Central Texas, Southwest Ohio, and Seattle. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more Excerpt. ? Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Chapter 1: Bare-Bones Minimum Before we talk about studying or note taking or paper writing, we need to cover the bare-bones minimum requirements of learning and earning good grades. One, you need to maintain a solid relationship with your teacher, and two, you need to act like a good student. This may surprise you, but being successful in school involves more than just brains and hard work (although brains and hard work are both very important). Doing well has a lot to do with how other people think about you and with how you present yourself. Luckily, mastering the bare-bones minimum is easy, and the payoff is quick. Even if you read nothing else in this book, if you can apply what you learn in this chapter, you will find your performance in school improving almost overnight. First, we will help you understand what it is your teacher wants from you. Then we will show you how to give your teacher what he wants without having your classmates think you are a dork. Try This Before you read this chapter, answer the following questions honestly: 1. Have you missed any class more than three times in the past four months? 2. Have you been late to any class more than three times in the past four months? 3. Have you been reprimanded for disrupting a class or falling asleep during class in the past four months? 4. Have you forgotten to complete an assignment more than once in the past four months? 5. Has your teacher ever caught you cheating or lying? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, you are not living up to the minimum standard of behavior expected of good students. Read this chapter carefully. Who Is Your Teacher and What Does She Want? To build a good relationship with your instructors, you have to understand where they are coming from -- what motivates them, what angers them, what makes them happy. While you are reading this, try to put yourself in an instructor's shoes for just a minute and see things from her point of view. Who Is Your Teacher? Your teacher is someone who has spent many years learning, working, and training to help you excel in life. You probably already know this, but high school instructors do not make very much money. They often make less than half of what someone with the same amount of education would earn in another job. So why did they go through all the trouble? Because they really, really want to give you a good education. It's their mission. It's something they believe in and are passionate about. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers have it rough. Many schools have little money to spend on materials, so teachers can't even get chalk and paper, much less the latest computer software. Some schools have problems with criminal or violent students, which makes teachers feel threatened. Teachers tend to feel that they get all the blame if anything goes wrong in a classroom, but they get no reward or recognition for a job well done. Because of complicated pressures from school boards and administrators, teachers also feel like they have little freedom to try new approaches to teaching and solving problems. The job is so difficult and frustrating, in fact, that many teachers leave the profession within five years. Ever wish you could sneak into the teachers' lounge or eavesdrop on a conversation between a group of your instructors? Do you wonder what they talk about? Most likely, you would hear them talk about their frustration with rules and requirements that make no sense to them. They might talk about not having the resources they need or the professional freedom they want. And, yes, they do talk about students. They complain about students who show no interest in learning. They worry over students who have a lot of potential but no motivation. And then, sometimes, they brag. They brag about students who have made breakthroughs in difficult subjects. They brag about having a good class session in which all the students participated actively. They brag about students who go the extra mile and do exceptional work. They brag because they are proud of their students. It's that pride that makes them want to be teachers. That's what keeps them going. What Does Your Teacher Want? Nothing excites teachers more than the feeling that they are actually helping you learn something. Your learning and achievement are the tests of a teacher's skill, and, of course, your teachers want to feel like they are doing good work. If they had to write out a wish list of the things they want out of their jobs, here's what it would include: ? To see your performance improve over time. ? To make you excited about learning and improving in the future, even after you leave their classes. ? To be treated with respect and honesty. ? To know, at the very least, that all students are trying their best. ? To get a really big raise! An apple for the teacher every once in a while is fine, but cash gifts are not a good idea. Okay, so you can't do anything right now about getting your teacher a raise. But you can help fulfill four out of five of these wishes, and that's not bad! We know this is probably easier said than done. Before we get down to details on how you should interact with your teacher, let's talk about a couple of things that might hold you back: worrying about your image and disliking your teacher. Being Too Cool Can Trip You Up Why is it that the students who show up late, forget their assignments, cut up in class, and act like they don't care about anything seem so cool? And why do students who sit in the front row, raise their hands to answer every question, never miss class, and act all concerned about their grades seem like such dorks? If this is the way you feel, you are not alone. Those cool students appeal to us because they seem to be rebelling against authority, and Americans love rebels. Hey, our founding fathers, guys like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were some of the biggest rebels ever, right? Also, as a country, we tend to distrust intellectuals to an almost embarrassing degree. Our heroes are folks like frontiersman Davy Crockett and pilot Amelia Earhart, not super-geniuses like Albert Einstein. We pay millions of dollars to see movies like Dumb and Dumber, but would rather have our teeth pulled than watch a Shakespeare play. It's pretty weird when you think about it. It's natural that you would rather be seen as cool than as a dork or suck-up. 'Coolness' is an attractive concept -- especially since cool students obviously do a lot less school work than non-cool students. But prizing your rebel reputation over your education is a mistake. Don't worry, we are not about to urge you to become a complete geek. We will explain in just a little while how you can be a good student without damaging your image. But give the intellectuals of the world a little credit. For example, take a look at Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, a giant computer company. Try to imagine him in high school. The word 'cool' probably doesn't spring to mind, does it? Today, this guy is very rich and powerful and does not care one bit that you think he looks goofy or that people in high school thought he was a geek. Unless you are exceptionally lucky, your success in the future will depend completely on your knowledge and your determination. For that reason, it is very important that you take advantage of all the resources available to you in school. Whenever you feel your resolve weakening or feel pressured to downplay your education, try this little trick: Imagine your ten-year class reunion in detail. Think about all the things your education will help you earn: a great job, a nice house, maybe a fancy car. Then think about all those students who goofed off through high school and maybe didn't even get into college. What do you imagine them doing in ten years? Do they still seem cool? When You and Your Teacher Don't Get Along Does it seem like your teacher hates you? He cuts you absolutely no slack and never believes a word you say? Or maybe you can't stand him. Maybe he is mean or confusing. Or maybe you just don't like the way he talks or looks or dresses. If any of this sounds familiar, you and your teacher definitely got off on the wrong foot. You probably don't feel like putting forth a special effort for a teacher you don't get along with. Well, get over it. You need to take responsibility for fixing the situation. In order for you to do well and earn better grades, you need to have at least a civil relationship with your teacher. Let's look at some of the things that could have gone wrong, and figure out how to undo the damage. Maybe You Goofed Be honest with yourself. Have you been turning in assignments late or not at all? Have you been doing a half-hearted job on your homework? Does your teacher have to tell you to be quiet often? Have you lied to your teacher? If so, you goofed up. Your teacher probably does not believe you are serious about learning -- or worse, she no longer trusts you. She is probably suspicious of you, and not inclined to believe you if a genuine illness or personal problem comes up that interferes with school. This is a tricky problem. It is a lot easier to keep a good reputation than to fix a bad one. The first thing you need to do is finish reading this chapter so you understand the right way to present yourself in class. Make a promise to yourself to do your best to improve your performance. Then, let your teacher know that you understand you made mistakes in the past but that you are going to try hard to live up to her expectations in the future. She may still be suspicious, but if you back up your words with actions, her attitude will change. Remember: Teachers like to see improvement. Is Your Teacher from Another Planet? Everyone can tell a story about a freaky teacher.... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more
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