January is the time that we kick off selecting courses for the next school year. We are always looking to improve our processes, so we want to update you on some of our new approaches. One of our main goals is for our students to have direct contact with their counselors. Over the next week, our counselors will be visiting with our 9th, 10th and 11th graders in their classrooms to discuss course selection and other items. We will then follow-up with an email that will give you and your student all of the resources necessary to make great decisions. Katie Bryant, one of our student support counselors, has chosen to write the following message focused on courses for you. Katie has been on our campus for 10 years and she has worked with all types of students and families. “Thank you!” to Katie for taking the time to share her own reflection.
It has been a great couple of weeks back. We are now approaching the busy season that has to do with course selection for next year. Being thoughtful as you and your child discuss classes for next year is important for several reasons. The most important reason is that we are really hoping that students are spending time to really look at all their commitments in addition to the classes they are selecting. Many of our students are involved with many other activities outside of the school day. Finding a healthy balance can be hard when you and/or your child does not want to give anything up. It is extremely important that our students have time to just be kids. “Play time” is extremely important and necessary at any age. Over the years research continues to tell us how important family dinners are. How often is that happening in your home? We also know how important sleep is. Our students report an average of 6 hours per night when we know that they need at least 8-10 hours.
In an effort to help our students challenge themselves appropriately while making sure they have a healthy lifestyle, we urge students and parents to use the newly created Course Hours sheet and Time Management form when selecting new classes. These will both be available to you in the Course Selection book.
The Course Hours sheet provides an estimate of how many hours outside of class a student will need to devote to that class to be successful. These numbers are an estimate. Recognize that the time a student spends on homework will vary based upon student preparedness, student focus and effort, learning/study habits, homework environment, age, developmental stage, etc.
The Time Management form allows students to enter total estimated homework time for all their courses, along with estimated times for extra-curricular activities and daily living activities, including sleep. I meet with students a lot who are anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that they must get done. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. We often see that dropping the level of just one course or giving up one commitment can make a huge difference in the overall well-being of the student.
We are very excited about these new resources and hope that you will find them useful. Do not hesitate to reach out to myself or another counselor. We are more than happy to talk with your child and discuss all of the options. Sometimes decisions can be hard to make so talking it out with an unbiased person can often help. We can always do a pros and cons list. Such a simple tool can really outline where your child's priorities, wants and desires are that aren't always expressed when debating if they should take a certain course or drop an activity.
The second reason that being mindful when selecting courses is for staffing. We build the master schedule and assign staff based on what students sign up for. The assumption cannot be that, “well, the student can just drop the course if it is too hard.” Many times we can make that happen but not always. We also work very hard to balance classes which can be difficult. We always do our best to accommodate the student but every year I meet with stressed out students and parents that get “stuck” with a schedule because they had assumed that they could just switch the class.
Know what is best for YOUR child. For your child, one advanced course may be just as stressful and time consuming as five APs for another. And that’s OK. There are very few college students who take five courses at a time, so perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect a high school student to do the same. Remember that most all of us could use better balance in our lives. Modeling what balance looks like is a great way for our kids to know what that truly looks like.
And just in case you want some more information, I encourage you to look at the information on the Healthy Chaps page. There is a wealth of information there, specifically here on APs and mindfulness.
It’s always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections