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7 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Student Success

Improve student success through teacher reflection

The car’s engine made a sputtering noise as Andrew drove it on the way to school. It was a thirty-minute drive from his home to school, and the car broke down within the first five minutes, leaving him stranded in the middle of the road with a backseat full of school supplies for his classroom. Andrew hoped that by setting his room up, he’d have a sure-fire way of enhancing student success. Though, it didn’t look like he’d be able to do that now. 

“Please, don’t die on me now,” Andrew whispered to the car as panic began rising his chest, suffocating him. He tried to turn the vehicle on repeatedly to no avail. “I really can’t afford for you to do this now.” 

Andrew knew that speaking to his car wouldn’t help, but he was anxious about getting to class. Especially when he turned his head and supplies stared at him, reminding him of where he needed to be.

His backseat was stockpiled with textbooks, colourful wallpapers that grabbed one’s eye, and even a pack of charts he had printed out. 

He had just arrived back last night from overseas attending his sister’s wedding. It was great seeing his family, but all the students start back tomorrow. 

Groaning, he stepped into the blistering heat and checked his car. 

Maybe, just maybe, this was a problem he could solve without needing to call a mechanic and tow truck. Looking underneath the hood, he couldn’t tell what was wrong with the engine. Instead, he gave up and got a local mechanic.

As he waited, he tapped his fingers aggressively against his legs, pacing back and forth around his car. Another problem had presented itself – he had no way of getting to school; even if the mechanic could fix his car, it’d take longer than a day for it to get done. How could he get to school? 

Taking out his mobile, once again, he called one of his peers.

“Hello?” A voice on the other end spoke, answering the call. 

“Hi, Jessica! It’s Andrew, I’m sorry to bother you but I was hoping I could ask a favour,” Andrew said as he explained the situation to Jessica. 

“So you need me to come to pick you up?” Jessica asked. 

“It’s alright if you can’t,” Andrew said. “I’ll understand.” 

“No, it’s no problem for me!” Jessica said as Andrew let out a sigh of relief. 

He thanked her several times and gave her his address before ending the call. It was around this time that the tow truck and mechanic had arrived and they began their business – they took his car and gave him the location for where it could be found later. 

Andrew stood there alone, standing on the curb with his boxes of materials for class, waiting for Jessica to arrive. Once she did, he no longer felt worried about getting to school. Jessica waved at him from the driver’s seat, flagging him down as he brought everything with him. 

“Thank you so much!” He said, red in the face from the heat. 

“It’s no problem. Did you enjoy the trip overseas?” Jessica asked with a smile. She glanced down at the boxes he had been carrying, “I see you’re setting up class, mine’s done. Would you like some help? ” 

“Oh, yes please and yes the trip was really worth it.” He confirmed. 

A lot of patience and preparation is needed to improve student success. Interestingly, when it comes to planning for day one, we can achieve that almost perfectly. However, it’s also vitally important to keep the momentum going once we have begun. There are seven sure-fire ways to do this. Plan, update yourself, set up the classroom, organise resources, create procedures, parent communication, weekly feedback, and your self-evaluation.

1 – Plan to improve student success

If you fail to plan, it simply means you are prepared to have little impact on improving student success. That statement is as true as day and night! If you are thinking about how to improve your student’s success, you must plan for it! It would help if you planned because it has been proven that planning helps to manage errors, waste and delays. Let me give you some more elaborate reasons why you need to plan!

  • Planning gives you a sense of direction: When you don’t plan, you merely react to daily occurrences. All we do is done without putting into consideration what will happen in the long run. For example, the solution that makes sense at the moment may not make sense in the long run. Planning helps to avoid that. It helps provide solutions that will be useful both momentarily and in the long run.
  • Planning helps you anticipate problems and how to solve them: When you do proper planning, it allows you to predict problems you may face in the future. Once you identify them, you make necessary changes upfront to avoid them!

2 – Set up the classroom for student success

Typically Admin gives us a few days to get our new classroom ready for the new academic season. Make sure you put in order your desks and seats the way you’ll want them to be. My students have always loved the way I set up the classroom, but it’s different all the time because I’m ever-changing it, but the main factor is that it’s fresh and welcoming. 

As a teacher, the classroom is our basic environment. No one likes to works in a dirty and unorganised room. Therefore, classroom furniture should be arranged for optimum student success and teacher style. There are thousands of ways to arrange desks google them, and you’ll find desks arranged into traditional rows, cooperative clusters, horseshoe shape, diagonals and so on. 

Once you’ve decided that, place your desk strategically where you can see everyone. However, I like to get rid of the throne as soon as possible. I use a horseshoe table where I can conference with a group of students. You will be surprised, but it does improve student success. 

I always love to think of a theme to decorate the room and to set up space for my classroom library. Then, fill it with a variety of books, bean bags, and possibly a comfy chair or small couch. I also like to put up a few new wall posters relating to topics I will be teaching but not too much. Preferring to leave lots of space for displaying students work.

set up your classroom for student success

3 – Get all classroom materials ready

After you’ve set up the classroom, there’s a huge need for you to get all the classroom supplies and materials ready. Whether you’re a new teacher or you’ve been around awhile, it is imperative to contact school admin; to find out which materials and supplies will be given to you. To make sure your materials are always available, make a list of all the materials you use. Take stock at intervals to be sure of which needs to be added, modified or changed.

You definitely wouldn’t want to start the new season on a bad note or give the new students an ill impression about yourself. Given that you want to make a good impression and start strongly, you should make sure you put together all the necessary materials needed for work before the first day back to school. These materials may include your textbooks, lesson notes, visual charts, wall posters, measurement tools, etc. “A hunter doesn’t go into the forest without his gun”.

4 – Create Class Rules and Procedures

Learning classroom etiquette will catapult each student towards the final goal of learning early on. Bonding and good relationships between students also helps. So, have a few break-the-ice games for that first day. 

Research tells us that students tend to follow rules they create themselves. So, have them cooperatively create a list of five classroom rules. Then run a competition for the best classroom rules poster created in groups. While they’re busy making their rules sign, it’s a great time to tweak your rules and procedures quickly. Then circulate and chat with students. Display the posters for students to judge which one should win, which leads to more discussion on this topic. 

Rules and procedures are the ultimate keys to maintaining a well-managed classroom. However, it’s not enough to just tell students what they are; we need to teach the rules and procedures if we want students to succeed. So, I roleplay the desired behaviour, then ask all students in pairs to roleplay it, repeat in groups of four, then a few brave students can choose to act it in front of the class. 

5 – Develop a Communication System with Students and Parents

Students who thrive at school tend to have a strong teacher-parent communication system. To better understand what practices happen at home. Also, parents can give you more honest reviews about their kids. When you have effective communication with parent and student, it will enable you to plan effectively. I know we all get busy, but this is so important to student success. The student-teacher relationship is one very crucial one. If you can bond with the student, you can influence his/her reasoning.

If you can, try to have a first-day note sent to all your students’ parents, with a bit of powerful first-day advice for your students. Try to grow their enthusiasm with your words, grow optimism in them too. Help them believe in themselves and imbibe the winning mentality into them—no room for mediocrity.

Giving and receiving peer feedback


6 – Make teacher and peer feedback a weekly priority

Regularly arrange for teacher and peer feedback. We have to plan for feedback and encourage it intentionally., it won’t just happen. Cooperative group activities help break the ice for shy students. Breaking that fear only once may be the key that will improve student success in your class. 

Take the time to spend at least ten minutes of one on one time with each student per week chatting about anything. I try to conference at least once a week with each student in upper primary about specific ways forward with their work. Students love being special. – Don’t we all? Students whose behaviour is negative and could spiral downwards, nip it in the bud with a daily 10 min chat about their interests or home or whatever they choose, for at least two weeks.


7 – Update yourself in new technology 

It is pretty much advised that you learn, practice and perfect new technologies you’ll be using to teach before the start of the school year. At the moment, I’m working on a fantastic teachers tech course called Jump Start. It is a self-paced, online technology course for the thoughtful educator. Jennifer Gonzalez makes it simple and uncomplicated by guiding you through a series of hands-on projects.

Jump Start’ will give you the confidence and skills you need to make smart choices about the tech you use to improve your students’ success. The course teaches you principles so that as tech changes, you can maneuver the new software. Please note, I am not being paid any referral for this recommendation.

Jennifer is your perfect instructor, and the materials are A+ at such little cost. There’s an illustrated teachers guide to tech, which she keeps updated that every teacher should have. 


Evaluate your performance and activities regularly.

One very powerful element is to make sure everything stays coordinated. Evaluate your performance and other activities you have put in place. I suggest that you do the evaluation weekly or fortnightly. When you do the review, you can spot where there are lapses and make changes. Also, if you are doing well already, it will be a huge boost to your morale.

Additionally, try to meet with other teachers within or outside your school, find out what the preparations are, add those you think are viable to what you have already and trust me, you are in for a nice school year.


Prepping the room

Once Jessica and Andrew arrived at school, they hung up the posters that he had prepared; some of them included motivational pictures, classroom rules and procedures. 

He organised the materials by textbooks, pencils, pens, and measurement tools for easier access – he wanted to make his room a safe space for his students and make sure they all had what they needed to be ready for class. 

In previous years, he often saw a few students who couldn’t afford some materials, so he learned to keep them ready. Once he made it a habit of having materials for both him and his class, he saw a rise in student success. Since then, he has made sure to do this every year. 

“I think it looks good,” Jessica said, stepping away from the walls to take a better look. Nodding, she clapped her hands together. “All that’s left is to put up the charts that you have, and you should be set to go.” 

“I can’t thank you enough,” Andrew said, wiping his hands against his jeans. “You saved my life today.” 

“It was nothing,” Jessica said, shrugging it off. She grinned at him and said, “It makes me happy seeing a teacher who is so dedicated to his students and their success. It’s nice.” 

At that, Andrew smiled as he felt a glow of appreciation for her. Jessica drove him to the garage to pick up his car and go home. They said their goodbyes as it was getting dark and time to head home. 

Next morning Andrew stood at the open door of his classroom, to greet each student individually. He tried to do this every morning to create a strong student-teacher relationship. All he wanted was to see them do well in their classes, and he would do anything to make sure he could offer his assistance to them. 

“Good morning,” Andrew said to each student that walked into the room. “Welcome to class.” 

Spread the word . . .  .

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About the author: 5000 Credits 10000 Credits 15000 Credits 20000 Credits PRO Badge sylvias Visit My Stall
I am a K-12 Australian Teacher, with 25+ years of teaching experience. My Honours research investigated how teachers succeed in teaching English in a TEFL context. Originally from the UK, I lived and worked for 15 years in the Pacific Islands. During that time I was Principal of a school for 5 years, training teachers, teaching a class, and building a school from the ground up. I'm now back in Australia teaching and having fun!
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