Drunk Drivers Are Stupid

Today, I had the opportunity to sit in on a final meeting before the annual Project Graduation project that I have helped run for a number of years. If you aren’t familiar with the program, Project Gradutation is a program offered by many high schools in the United States, in which organized, adult-supervised and alcohol-free activities are offered as part of a post-graduation party, as an alternative to student-run events involving alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Most run the program the night of graduation; some choose that weekend. The theme for this year was a simple one: drunk drivers are stupid. 

The program is a great and often is a final way to celebrate the entire graduating class together. There are often lots of carnival-like games, tons of food (often ending with a breakfast buffet around 6 AM) and of course a DJ. The event is typically sponsored by the parent-teacher arm of the school and local businesses. 

I can imagine what you’re thinking at this point; many of the kids are just going to go and drink another night. That very well could be the case, and truthfully, we as a school are not going to stop students from experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or other dangerous decisions that they will come across. We can, however, offer all of the resources that we have as a community to deter students from making terrible decisions that can result in the destruction of life.

In the past, I have found visual deterrents to be very impactful. I previously blogged about what Hopewell Central High School did; a full blown mock fatal car accident, with the student council president dying in the wreck. Everything from the blood and crime scene markers to the funeral home showing up. It was full of lights, sirens, and sadness. It was painful to watch. That’s the point. 

I have also arranged for a car that was involved with a DWI / DUI to be “donated” to a high school and display it prominently by the main entrance or where my seniors parked their cars. Again, the image is gruesome, but it’s suppose to be.

There are also lessons that health / PE teachers complete, but as an administrator, I tried to get as many teachers involved. At HVRSD, supervisors also taught one class to keep us in the loop (I loved it). I had second semester seniors. We did a whole unit on why driving under the influence is stupid. We talked about the process, and how everyone can see this because it’s a public record. My favorite lesson was pulling up three different articles on high school party busts; the first two with descriptions & pictures, but the third one had an article with the names of every student who was arrested. That article was the game changer for many. In a matter of hours, your life can change, and not for the better.

I recently saw one statistic that a drunk driver who gets arrested has driven as much as 430 separate times under the influence. How scary is that? 

It’s facts like that that our future needs to be aware of. Drunk driving, or driving under the influence of anything, it just downright stupid and dangerous. We see Celebrities getting busted daily and glorified in our pop culture, but we also see kids who just graduated go through the same thing. 

 Nothing is more painful that seeing someone who worked so hard only to have their lives ruined or taken away because of stupid decision making. I’ve seen it on all levels in schools, from students to administrators; on no level is it easier to deal with. As leaders, we have an onus the make sure that whomever this happens to gets the help they need. 

Here’s to hoping you or a student from your town does not have to go through this. In today’s times where we as a society seldomly agree on anything, we can all agree that drunk driving is stupid.

Pop the Champagne!

IMG_0707There are many reasons to pop the champagne if you are an educator; you’ve either crossed the finish line or are about to! While I hope every educator will take the time to relax and recharge this summer, some will still have the 2017-18 school year on their mind. Many will be spending time exploring projects, ideas, and technology at their leisure.  If you are feeling overwhelmed already,  below is a great 2-minute-flick on how you can take charge of your own PD this summer and in the future. Now, get off my blog and enjoy the beautiful sun!


@EitnerEDU Launches a New Podcast…from the Hot Tub!

Eitner Education debuts in its’ new podcast called “The Tub”! Each episode will feature a trend in schools, a trending book in education, and something to turnkey into your educational lifestyle. This podcast is for all leaders, teachers, and everyone in between.

My first podcast features Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter, co-authors of “Escaping the School Leaders Dunk Tank”, which is available on amazon, Barnes & Noble, and classy bookstores everywhere!

I hope you enjoy this; thanks for coming on the journey with me!

About The Authors

Dr.  Rick Jetter  is an Educational Consultant, Speaker & Trainer, and Multi-Genre Author. He was a solid “D+” student in 7th grade and he has a cool dog, named George Jetter. Dr. J. also types faster (with two index fingers) than he talks. Dr. J. is interested in all types of topics–especially the ones that no one wants to truly take on (even though they say they do while their fingers are crossed behind their backs).

For more information about the book, Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown, visit http://www.leadershipdunktank.com

Dr. J. has also successfully worked with other authors on their ideas and creative concepts by offering book concept and writing strategies through his own unique coaching process.

He is the founder of and lead consultant at RJ Consultants.

Rebecca Coda is the founder of the Digital Native Network. http://www.digitalnativenetwork.net She currently serves as a STEM Coach, weekly contributing columnist for School Leader’s Now, and article contributor on LinkedIn. She has over 18 years’ experience in education as a teacher, ELA curriculum and assessment writer, and technology program leader. Rebecca is a National Board Certified Teacher & Arizona K12 Center Master Teacher. She is a Christian and lives each day by faith, hope, and love.

Interested in hopping into the tub? Join me on my podcasting journey!


ADDitional Support

Below is a great post by Jack Milgram. It’s certainly worth the read for all parents, teachers, and administrators in the land. You can find Jack’s original post by clicking here.

100 Self-Help & Study Skills for Students with ADD

By February 3, 2017

100 Self-Help & Study Skills for Students with ADD

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are becoming more and more common in the modern age. Students complain about struggling to pay attention, which affects their studying.

But don’t you worry!

We’ve decided to compile a list of 100 tips on how students with ADD can develop proper study skills. This article can give you an idea of how to handle this condition properly and provide you with helpful ADHD strategies. Keep on reading if you want to know how to manage your time and schedule, take notes, and remember material efficiently. This article will also tell you about study strategies for ADHD students, study techniques, and skills you may find useful. You’ll get a number of study tips that actually work.

Scheduling & time management

Scheduling & time management

  1. Watch the time.

You can use whatever you want: a desk clock, wall clock or wristwatch. When starting a task, say the time out loud, or make a note of it (write it down, for instance). This will help you to stay on track.

  1. Set the limits.

To discipline yourself even more, use a timer. You can set an individual alarm for each task or set multiple timers to go off after a certain time has passed. It will be easier to tell how much time you spend.

  1. Allow extra time.

Start a habit of giving yourself an extra 10 minutes for every half an hour you think you’ll spend on completing a task. You’ll have a more flexible schedule in case you’ve estimated the time poorly.

  1. Set your plans earlier.

It’s the same thing as with the previous tip. If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, make an appointment for 10–15 minutes earlier. You can also make a reminder to know exactly when to leave.

  1. Use a planner.

This should go without saying, but this is a vital tip. You can write down all your plans and appointments using any device you want, or even go old-school and use a separate notebook or organizer.

What’s the main purpose?

To keep everything in order and not forget a thing. This is one of the most vital ADHD strategies.

  1. Choose the right time.

All people are different and it’s impossible to say what time is the best for everyone to study. You need to choose the part of the day when you’re the most active to study. This will maximize its efficiency.

  1. Don’t cram your schedule.

While some feel more motivated having a busy schedule, assigning too many tasks for the day often just adds unnecessary pressure. If you feel stressed out, free up your schedule a bit.

Set your priorities

  1. Set your priorities.

When you have many tasks to do during the day, it’s important to keep this thought in your head. Tell yourself that there’s work to do instead of just dozing off and procrastinating. You’ll only lose time, without getting things done.

  1. Have something to waste.

In this case, it’s time. Leave a place in your schedule just to let off some steam and do nothing. After that, you’ll be back free of stress and refilled with energy.

  1. Have a consistent sleep schedule.

Studying can alter your sleep schedule greatly. So, you have to make sure you go to bed at the same time each night and get enough sleep. If done right, it will have a positive effect on your productivity.

  1. Your mood matters.

When making a schedule, make sure that you’re in a good mood and thinking positively. If you’re forcing yourself to make a schedule, the chances are that you’ll have a hard time following it, too. Developing proper study techniques is important, but they also don’t have to make things harder for you.

  1. Have multiple schedules.

Making schedules requires patience. And if there’s something wrong and you fail to follow the plan, it can lead to discouragement and abandoning the whole idea of scheduling. This is why it’s important to make schedules for various terms. We’ll talk about them below.

  1. Have a long-term schedule.

This one includes only regular and fixed tasks. It won’t change much with time and acts as a base for building shorter term schedules.

  1. Have a weekly schedule.

This schedule will include all the important events waiting for you during the week. It can also contain the amount of work you need to do. Changing each week, this schedule is the best to build on weekends.

Have a daily schedule

  1. Have a daily schedule.

This one will contain the specific tasks to be completed throughout the day. After something is done, you can cross it out.

Here’s the main idea:

Daily scheduling not only keeps you organized, but also prevents you from giving up the idea of making schedules in the first place.

  1. Double the time.

While everyone’s schedule is unique, there’s a guideline that works for most students. Plan 2 hours of studying for each hour of classes. This includes all the study-related tasks.

  1. Make a habit.

Try studying at the same time each day. After some time, this will become a habit, which will make your studying more systematic and active. It will also be easier to follow the schedule.

  1. Include weekends in your schedule.

No, nobody tells you to study on weekends. What you can do, though, is to schedule an hour to review all the material you’ve learned during the week.

  1. Trade the time.

No one can predict the future, and an unscheduled event will happen occasionally. Instead of giving up the time that you planned to spend on a task, just trade it with a later time, so that you can still complete the task. It won’t be a problem if you save up time as mentioned in the 9th tip.

  1. Set the milestones.

Decide what steps you’ll need to complete a certain task. Milestones will help you to estimate your time better and focus on smaller, more manageable chunks of work instead of one huge task.

See the deadline

  1. See the deadline…

Write down the deadline for a certain task. Put it somewhere so you can always see it. This will act as a reminder not to waste your time and stay focused.

  1. …not only for yourself.

Let’s say you need help. But you also know that you can’t waste any time, because a long wait for a reply can make you lose focus. To avoid that, ask the people who help you to come up with a reply by a certain time or day.

  1. Make a commitment.

When you set the time for your studying, stay committed to it. Remind yourself that if you finish your tasks on time, you’ll be free to do whatever else you want. Don’t try to find compromises. Otherwise, you’ll just end up spending even more time.

  1. Don’t delay.

Start each task as soon as possible – preferably as soon as you get it. There are enough things you can do “to prepare yourself”. And by doing them, you end up spending more time on a task. So, no “sharpening pencils” – just get to work.

  1. Know exactly what you’ll do.

When starting a task, go through all the steps you’ll complete in your head. Stick to that plan.


Even if there’s a distraction, you’ll be able to deal with it and resume your work quickly because you know exactly what to do next.

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Note-taking & remembering material

Note-taking & remembering material

  1. Do a bedtime review.

If you need to remember important material, do a quick review of it for 10–15 minutes before going to sleep. Sure, you’ll still need to study it beforehand, but reviewing what you’ve just learned will help to memorize it easier.

  1. Review more.

Apart from having bedtime review sessions, you can also check back on your notes right after the class. It will help you to remember the important information with ease.

  1. Be ready to take notes.

Always have a notebook by your side, or any device where you can keep notes. You never know when a great thought or idea will hit you, so it’s better to be prepared.

  1. Copy the notes.

There’s a trick to memorize your notes easier. Just write them down again. It will act as good revision for newly learned material.

  1. Make association chains.

If you’re struggling to remember certain information, keep drawings in your notes that you can associate with a concept you’re trying to memorize.

  1. Use acronyms.

In order to remember a list, use the first letters of all the items and put them together. You can play around with the order of the items for the resulting word to make more sense. Or make up a sentence using words that begin with the same letter as the items you’re trying to remember.

  1. Talk to yourself.

When studying alone, you can repeat some of the key thoughts aloud after reading them. This will help you to memorize the material easier.

Interpret it

  1. Interpret it.

You don’t have to note everything that’s been said word for word. If it’s possible, write the main ideas down in your own words so it’s easier for you to understand. Proper note-taking and remembering are among the most important study skills for ADD students. So, it’s better not to neglect them.

  1. Take notes more often.

If you don’t feel like taking enough notes, there’s a little trick you can use.

Divide your page into several sections (let’s say, 5). And try to fill those sections after a certain period of time (you’re free to decide how often).

  1. Edit your notes right away.

Don’t wait until you get back home. Highlight and mark the key thoughts and ideas, before it’s too late and you’ve forgotten about it. It will be easier to use such notes later.

  1. Make indicators.

You need to be able to quickly tell which part of your notes is important (e.g., use a highlighter), which part is confusing and caused you to have questions (e.g., mark it with a question mark), and which part you need to add more information to (e.g., mark it with an asterisk). Come up with a code system to easily point out such parts.

  1. Use alternatives.

In order to get the most information from the lecture, ask for a printed summary. With it, you’ll be sure that you didn’t miss anything.

  1. Try exchanging notes.

This will not only give you extra snippets of information, but it will also give you some hints on what you can improve in your own note-taking. It’s even better if you exchange them with other college students with ADD. In this case, they’ll benefit from it too.

  1. Make it diverse.

In order to memorize the material better and concentrate more, avoid studying similar subjects one after another. It will only bring confusion and prevent you from remembering properly.

Sticky notes

  1. Sticky notes.

Make use of sticky notes when reading and trying to remember the important information. Write the key points down on a note, so it’s easier to revise everything later.

  1. Organize space in your notebook properly.

It’s better to use a larger notebook, but at the same time, it has to be as comfortable as possible for you. Use only a part of the page and leave free space so that you can keep keywords, comments or ideas there.

  1. Separate the thoughts.

Leave blank spaces between the key points. It will be easier to spot the end of one thought and the beginning of the other. Also, you’ll be able to add extra information if necessary.

  1. See the points.

Most of the lectures consist of a few main points and a couple of additional ones. Everything else is mostly explanatory material. You need to spot those points.

The deal is simple:

You’ll see the main points if you listen carefully instead of trying to write down every word.

  1. Keep your notes understandable.

It’s necessary to make note-taking as effective as possible. But at the same time, you don’t want to cross the line where you won’t understand what’s written in your notebook. Watch the neatness of your notes, and make sure to use the same abbreviations and signs to avoid confusion.

  1. Copy the board.

In contrast to tip 43, it’s better to copy everything that’s written on the board. It usually contains essential information and clues that you can use when preparing for exams.

Understand what you’re trying to learn

  1. Understand what you’re trying to learn.

Understanding is the key to proper learning. Don’t try to just mindlessly memorize the information. Instead, spend a few minutes to comprehend it. You’ll see that it’s easier to remember it that way.

  1. See the difference.

This one is opposite to the previous tip. Along with understanding, you have to spot the parts you need to memorize verbatim and indicate them. They can be dates, rules, definitions or even passages of texts.

  1. Decide what to learn first.

When you know you have to remember a lot of material, start with the material you need to keep in your mind the longest.

  1. Review as soon as possible.

In order for it to be a review of written material, not a relearning, you need to do it within the first 24 hours. The sooner you’ll do it,  the clearer understanding of the material you’ll have.

  1. Explain your notes.

For a better understanding of the main ideas and contents of your notes, you can list the main keywords. To make sure that you’ve done it right and know what you’re talking about, try describing the main point to someone without actually referring to your notes.

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Study tips for ADD students

Study tips for ADD students

  1. Divide your study time into parts.

Studying for a couple of hours straight is hard, even for students without ADD. That’s why it’s vital to have breaks every so often.

How do you do this the right way?

To prevent procrastination, set an alarm reminding you to go back to work.

  1. List the tasks.

Digesting well-organized information more easily is in our nature. So, put all your tasks and assignments on a list. It will help you to manage them efficiently and to have everything in order.

  1. Get rid of distracting thoughts.

Having random thoughts popping into our heads is a sort of defensive mechanism when dealing with boring tasks. If you’re struggling to focus on studying, write down everything that distracts you on a piece of paper, then put it away until you finish studying.

  1. Test yourself.

Even if you think you’ve memorized the new material, testing your knowledge isn’t a bad idea. It usually turns out that you need a little more time to actually remember the information.

  1. Make it graphic.

Draw mind maps in order to put the ideas on paper and show the relations between them. This tip will be especially useful if you struggle with listing out thoughts.

  1. Break down assignments.

As with dividing up your total studying time, you can also divide up huge tasks into smaller pieces. They won’t seem that hard and will be easier to manage. As a result, you’ll get a more stable workflow.

Reward yourself

  1. Reward yourself.

You can set up a system with rewards and achievements for finishing certain tasks. It will serve as a motivation boost that will help you to keep going.

  1. Don’t overestimate.

This doesn’t mean that you need to have lower expectations of your performance. But they at least need to be closer to reality. Putting more pressure on yourself with a huge amount of challenging tasks is very likely to end up with lots of stress.

  1. Decrease the level of distraction.

Some say that listening to music while studying makes the process more pleasant; however, it can distract you quite a lot. In order for music to interfere less with your studying, listen to instrumental or orchestral music, or any other music without lyrics.

  1. Involve active reading.

This is one of the study techniques that help you to comprehend the material easier.

Here’s how:

Skim the text before reading it in full to see what’s coming up. Make questions based on chapter titles and answer them while reading. Notice the main points in the text, review them and take notes.

  1. Think about studying with a partner.

Some people get more distracted by others during the studying process, while others feel that working together with someone makes it more exciting and helps to stay focused. Decide which option works for you to improve the process.

  1. Change the location.

If you feel less productive at home, try other places that have fewer distractions. It can be an empty classroom, library or any other place that will help you to stay on track.

Ask for help

  1. Ask for help.

It sure is good to be able to study productively on your own. But if something is unclear or confusing, it’s fine to ask your teacher or tutor for help. Don’t be afraid to ask. Organize a meeting where you’ll get all the answers to your questions. This is one of the obvious ADHD study tips. Still, many students ignore it.

  1. Use color-coding.

You can apply it to almost anything. Color-code your notes, files, texts, schedules, etc. This will involve visual memory.

Want to know what’s even better?

Color-coding will help improve your overall performance, as you’ll be able to keep track of things more efficiently.

  1. Face the challenges.

This one helps deal with ADHD in college. While it’s great to aim for the stars, you also need to be aware that accidents happen. So, give your inner perfectionist a break. Even if something doesn’t work, you can always try again later.

  1. Involve multitasking.

If it keeps you going, you can easily do two things at once. It can prevent you from getting bored and losing productivity.

  1. Make soft transitions.

After finishing one task, don’t start doing another one right away. Take a short break to be able to gather all your thoughts and set goals for the next task.

  1. Stay away from work… for some time, at least.

It sure is great to have a part-time job and have some extra money. But studying still needs to be your number one priority. The lack of focus won’t get you anywhere.

  1. Make the most of available resources.

Learning centers, libraries, and tutoring services are there to help you out if you’re experiencing difficulties. So, don’t ever hesitate to use this help.

  1. Don’t leave it for later.

If you know you need help and there’s nothing you can do on your own, ask for it right away. Deal with problems when they appear.

You know why?

If you set them aside until the end of the semester, it will require much more effort to make things better.

Stay in touch with your parents

  1. Stay in touch with your parents.

There’s no support as good as the support you get from your parents. A short chat with them can easily lower the level of stress and prevent you from breaking down.

  1. Prepare your computer.

Apart from installing the software you need for keeping notes and saving files, get rid of all the junk and create the necessary folders. And most importantly, remove all the distracting bookmarks from your browser. You know you’re going to use the Internet a lot, so make sure that nothing is in the way.

  1. Make your smartphone unreachable.

If your smartphone keeps distracting you and you spend hours on random apps, make it hard to reach. Plug it in and leave it somewhere in the distance, so you have to put in effort to get to it.

  1. Keep it simple.

As crazy as it may sound, don’t try to make everything complicated if things are going “too well”. It only means that you’re doing everything right.

  1. Exercise.

Exercise boosts your brain activity. Next time you decide to take a break between studying subjects, take a walk instead of just sitting around.

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Study skills & ADD strategies

Study skills & ADD strategies

  1. Know yourself.

You need to know what you’re good and bad at. This will help you to take the right path and do things that bring you enjoyment instead of stress and frustration.

  1. Start earlier.

If you’re just about to start your studying and there’s an opportunity to take summer classes, take it. It will give you a taste of what studying is really like and make the transition easier.

  1. Begin with the hardest…

Naturally, we start to lose attention and power during long hours of work or studying. That’s why you should start with the tasks you don’t like. If the tasks get easier and more enjoyable, it will help you to stay focused.

  1. …or vice versa.

You can begin with easier tasks too. You won’t get distracted from doing your least favorite tasks if you start with appealing ones. And they will help you to get into a rhythm that will keep you going until the very end.

  1. SQ3R.

Does it make any sense? It sure will now. SQ3R stands for this: survey, question, read, recite, review. It’s a reading comprehension method that makes digesting material more effective.

  1. Mix it up.

When planning your classes and courses, make the harder ones interchange with easier ones. Also, make it different for each day. For instance, have one day with a heavy workload and the next one with a lighter workload.

  1. Keep it regular.

You need to study regularly. Keep in mind that once you lose the pace, it will be difficult to get back on track.

Involve audio

  1. Involve audio.

Audiotaping the lectures can help if you struggle to keep up with writing everything down. And listening to those lectures again will help you to revise the material and remember it better. This is one of the ADHD college tips that is definitely worth trying.

  1. Stay offline.

If you have a choice between online courses and actual classes, the latter is better. It’s easier to lose focus with online courses, while classes will provide you with more structured materials and studying processes.

  1. Join forces.

It’s always great to have people who share the same interests around. Clubs make it possible for you to find such people. Join a club and you’ll always have someone to talk to and to ask for help if you need it.

  1. Get fun out of the way.

It may sound crazy at first.

But, surprisingly, this ADHD strategy actually works. If you rush your studying in order to get as quickly as possible to the part when you’re having fun, allow yourself to have fun first. Set the timer for about an hour. Then, after you’ve had your fun, do what you have to do with a clear mind.

  1. Let procrastination in… for a little while.

This goes together with the multitasking we talked about earlier, as well as with the previous tip. If you don’t have a deadline, and you get a random urge to clean up your room, let it happen and then go back to studying. You’ll spend less time on doing both tasks than on doing the two of them separately.

  1. Set specific goals.

Studying “just because you have to” will never work. You need to set specific goals for yourself. Make ones that are short-term, and complete them to reach a long-term goal. Think of something you want to achieve and you’ll get there eventually. This is one of the ADHD study skills worth developing.

Concentrate the right way

  1. Concentrate the right way.

Have a symbol that you’ll associate with studying. It can be whatever you want. Put it in sight before starting to work. It will help you to concentrate, as well as start a routine that will get you going.

  1. Avoid wrong associations.

If you’ve noticed that your thoughts start wandering, stop working for a while. You don’t want your study items to be associated with daydreaming. After a short break, it’ll be easier to get back on track.

  1. Read with pauses.

If you have a hard time concentrating on reading, try stopping for 10 seconds after each finished page. Even though it will increase your total studying time, you’ll be able to digest the information better.

  1. Set unfinished business aside.

Not studying, though. If you have any unfinished tasks, don’t start them just before you’re about to study. You’ll avoid wasting your time and won’t have a habit of starting things at the last second.

  1. Free your mind.

Don’t let the thoughts of what you need to do later prevent you from completing current tasks. Instead, put them on paper. As a result, you’re free of distractions, and there’s a reminder of what else awaits you that you can deal with later.

Stay relaxed

  1. Stay relaxed.

Studying while you’re stressed will only make things worse. You don’t need to think of studying as something worrying and unpleasant. Use methods of relaxation that work the best for you, so that you can start studying in a good mood.

  1. Don’t be afraid to overlearn.

Don’t deprive yourself of extra studying time just because someone says it’s “too much”. If you need one more hour to learn certain material properly, take it.

  1. Be aware of your learning style.

Your learning style can be kinesthetic (the most common among ADHD learning styles), auditory or visual.

Now, here’s what you should do:

Find the studying approach that suits you the most. And if it doesn’t bring the desired results, move on to the next one. If you work with a tutor, let them know about your learning style, so they’ll have a better idea of how to help you study more efficiently.

  1. Create a study guide… and go beyond it.

Making your own study guide helps to outline the most important information and makes your studying more structured. You’ll also be able to find additional materials in case there’s something missing or unclear.

  1. Take quizzes.

We’ve already talked about making tests for yourself to make sure you’ve memorized everything.

But there’s one more test taking strategy for ADHD students that you should try.

Take different types of tests and quizzes. This way, you’ll not only be familiar with the material itself, but also with tasks you’ll have to complete on a real test.

  1. Begin from the end.

Before starting a certain task, first, go through questions and summaries. This will give you a clearer understanding of the main idea and what this topic is all about.

  1. Question everything.

There’s no such thing as too many study tips for ADHD college students.

Apart from reading the questions before learning the topic, come up with your own questions too. Make them based on titles and subheadings. You can also come up with questions while reading. It helps to understand the text and get the most out of it.

If you’re interested in finding out more about ADD and ways to cope with it, check out this Attention Deficit Disorder Handbook.

Results won’t come in a single day and great study skills still require a certain amount of work. In order to improve your performance and make the most of these ADHD strategies, you need time and dedication. Blindly following these study tips and study techniques isn’t enough. You need to be ready for changes and be determined to get better at what you do. In the end, you’ll see that these strategies for ADHD students do work. Aim for success and you’ll reach it without a doubt.

The Tech Conductor

Below is a post that was written by Jeffrey Bradbury.  I have been very proud to call Jeff a colleague and great friend since we met at the first EdCampNJ in 2012.  Since then, Jeff has helped me navigate the educational seas on a myriad of levels, ranging from creating a new district website to offering in-person professional development to support staff. Read his great post below:

The other day, I had a technology coach from a neighboring school district visit my school and shadow me for the day.  It was a fantastic experience and something that I hope to be able to do with other districts this year and beyond.  The teacher and I had a great day of learning from one another, but I couldn’t help but use the day to reflect on many of our common conversation topics.  One of the deep conversations we had was around the simple question: “What is a Tech Coach?

Rather than use this post as an opportunity to dive into what a Tech Coach is, and what a Technology Integration Specialist is, I would like to propose a question to my readers that might shed some light on how I have approached these titles and my current position for the last two years.  The question is one that might sound strange, but those knowing my background might find quite interesting.  Should I consider myself a Tech Coach … or a Tech Conductor?

Let’s dive into this topic …

Everything I Know … I learned From The Podium

It’s no secret that my background is in Music Education.  I have countless memories of rehearsal sessions, and amazing performances of the worlds greatest pieces of music.  About 10 years ago (or more) I decided that I wanted to get up and instead of sitting in the orchestra, I wanted to start down a path that allowed me to stand in front of the orchestra and work along side them to perform sonata’s, symphonies, and operas.

It was during that time that I started taking formal conducting lessons from several amazing teachers.  From there, I learned how to physically stand and present myself to not only an orchestra, but a paying audience, and of course work along side a board of directors to help promote my vision, the orchestras vision, and most importantly, the composers visions.

Of all the things that I learned in the world of conducting, these lessons stand out:

  • The conductor is the only one on stage that doesn’t make noise, yet his actions are what tie the group together
  • The musicians don’t need a conductor to know what to do. A conductors job is simply to start everyone and guide them through transitions.
  • Treat every musician with respect, but understand that different instruments require different needs.

It has been through these lessons that I approach every day as a Tech Coach.  It is through these lessons that I find myself more becoming a Tech Conductor.  Let me try and explain how these lessons can be applied in a school system.

From Podium To Classroom … and Back Again

When you break down everything that happens on the podium, it starts and stops with the simple concept of Respect.  I can honestly say that I have my good days and I have had my bad days as I learn how to be a Tech Coach to over 400 staff members.  As a conductor, you have your good days and bad days too.  You have your rehearsals where everything goes well, and you have those times where someone puts you on the spot in a rehearsal and you simply don’t know the answer.  This happens in the classroom all the time.

What is important is that you come prepared to every rehearsal, meeting, classroom, as prepared as possible.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, you always make sure you have a resource (your PLN) that can help you find the answer quickly.

From early on in my conductor training, I learned that the word Maestro is one that gets placed upon you from day one, but the concept of Maestro, a word that literally translates into Teacher, (or coach) is one that is earned day after day, rehearsal after rehearsal and is earned only through respect.  This is extremely true for Technology Coaches who not only work with everyone in a district at all levels, but must also be walking talking resource centers of technology and pedagogy that are essentially on call 24/7.

You Are The Only One Who Doesn’t Make Any Sound

In an orchestra setting, the violin players, play the violin, the tuba players play the tuba, and the bass players play the bass.  Each of these musicians or groups of musicians has an instrument that they can pick up anytime and practice.  A Conductor on the other hand has the orchestra.  There is no try way to practice late at night with an imaginary group of 50 people.  The preparation for Conductors is mostly mental and requires you to study scores of music and practice “gestures” in the air, sometimes in front of mirrors to make sure that the one single time you are in front of a group you get it right.

As a Tech Coach, it is very much the same.  Teachers have the opportunity to learn from their students every day.  They learn how their classrooms work, act, and interact with each other.  As a Tech Coach, you have just one moment to walk into a classroom and nail your lesson.  When you are given an opportunity to present in front of a building, you are given an opportunity to showcase your self in front of 150 (or more) strangers who are all there to learn from, and support you. They know you are in front of them to help them become better educators, but there might not be the same friendly connection that a teacher and a group of students has, or a principal and a faculty have.

Walking into a building to give PD is very much like bring asked to come into a new orchestra and guest conduct a rehearsal or performance without ever getting to meet the musicians.

Your Teachers … They Don’t Need You

Let’s face the fact that teachers have been teaching for hundreds of years without the need for a “Technology Integration Specialist.”  They don’t need “Tech Coaching.”  But … do they?

One of the first rules of conducting is … Show Up When Needed, and Get Out Of The Way …

There are times when you can simply tell a musician how to play something, times when you can describe a sound, and times where you have to grab an instrument from the violin section and demonstrate for a group.

This couldn’t be more truer as a Tech Coach.  There are times where I have worked with a teacher and my role was simply to answer a question or two and back away.  Other situations have lead me to helping them create a co-teaching lesson where together, we worked with the students on an innovative lesson.

In the classroom, the role of a Tech Coach is to quickly enter and assess a situation and provide whatever the teacher needs when they need it.  Perhaps it’s by simply answering a question and other times it’s by picking up the instrument to demonstrate how something should look or sound.

If you choose the right method of support, the group/teacher will appreciate your help and together the rehearsal/lesson will move forward.  If you choose the wrong method at the wrong time, you are libel to insult someone and create a situation you never intended to have started. As a Conductor and as a Tech Coach, it’s always important to know the personalities you are working with so you can quickly make the right decisions and choices.

Some Teachers Are Section Players … Some Are Soloists

If you really think about it, a school district is very much like an orchestra. To conceptualize this, lets break down the different parts of each.

The Orchestra

Violin SectionThe Strings

In the front of a symphony orchestra lies a massive section known as the Strings.  All together, their instruments are in the “violin family.” Their instruments look similar, they play with a bow, and there could be as many as 24 of the same instrument in each of the 5 distinct sections.  Together, they can be broken down into string quartets, trios, and often, composers write for them as either a full section, or as soli sections. Each of the subsections (violins, viola, cells, bass) are seated by rank (ability level) and there is a section leader who is for conversation sake, “the boss” of that section.

The Winds

The next group of musicians behind the strings is the Woodwinds. This section is composed of your Flutes, Oboes, Clarinets, and Bassoons.  They are your mid range, mid level instruments who are put in the awkward position of sitting behind the massive string section, yet they sit in front of the might brass and percussion sections so it’s often possible that while playing loud and proud they don’t get heard when the entire group is playing together.

Winds and BrassThe Brass, Percussion, etc …

Composed of the Trumpets, Trombones, and Tubas, Drums, Marimbas, Cymbals and all other instruments these musicians are highly specialized and are only in your group because, like the winds, they passed an audition based on their ability to be leaders and soloists.  When addressing these musicians a conductor should simply be able to describe in as few words as possible the sound or quality they wish to hear and it should happen with as little retakes as possible.  These are HIGHLY skilled and trained musicians who spend hours in a practice room learning what is known as “excerpts” or very tiny solo passages just to have the opportunity to audition for the group.

A School District

Elementary Teachers

Elementary Teachers, should be approached as a group. In any building, for example, you have several 4th grade teachers all teaching their own class, but teaching a common curriculum to the classroom next door.  They meet in departments to plan common activities but they often do their lesson plans on their own.  When you work with one and not the others, it is often not looked highly on. Sometimes it’s best to talk about concepts such as blended learning, or SAMR models, but they are also the first to allow a Tech Coach to pick up their instrument (classroom) and come in to demonstrate something new and amazing in the world of Technology.

Elementary teachers often have degrees in general elementary education rather than a specialized degree in a subject area and for that reason it’s often best to show a wide variety of examples and build lessons together.  Elementary Teachers and Buildings should be approached the same way a string section is approached.  It’s always best when you are able to demonstrate the concept as well as describe.

Middle School

Much like the proud woodwinds, Middle School teachers are caught between elementary and high school teachers. They have the hardest job because without them students don’t have a solid direction when they get into the older grades.  Also much like the Woodwinds, Middle School teachers are soloists who often times are remembered the most when a student looks back at their favorite years in school  Their hardest job is that they often have to work with a group of students who came from multiple elementary schools and haven’t yet jelled together as individuals yet … and oh, did we mention those wonderful puberty years.

High School

Much like a conductor should never (unless specialized themselves in the instrument) tell a brass player how to play the trumpet, a good Tech Coach should never (or hardly ever) approach a high school teacher and tell them how to teach their subject. . . Trust me …

High School Teachers are HIGHLY talented, and HIGHLY Specialized educators who command the respect of teenagers every day and for those reasons I love popping my head into classrooms each day, asking if they need anything and moving on.  Often, I find myself sitting down with high school teachers to plan out lessons the same way I would sit down with a soloist to plan out a solo passage in a symphony.  If you show them respect, they will reciprocate and come back time and time again because their only goal each year is to produce the best students and pass them on to college.

What A Year!

 2016 has been an amazing year.  Yes, there has been bumps in the road, but what journey in life doesn’t have bumps?  I have received a flurry of emails as of late from staff members and parents about what we were able to accomplish this past year. A handful of items from the past 12 months include:

  • Rebuilding various grade levels with new schedules, teaching assignments, and building times so that when students leave our District, they are truly prepared for their next step.
  • Realigning staff on all levels in the interest of student achievement and District success.
  • Streamlining  our curriculum so that all teachers are teaching the same thing and all students are learning the same thing. 
  • Consolidating a before and after-school child care program that was losing over $75,000 a year into one  location where money is not being lost.
  • Implemented a new student information system that is both user-friendly and is updated for today’s times.
  • Upgraded a decade-old lunch money collection system so parents can pay online and see what their kids are (or are not) eating.
  • Built social media websites so that all stakeholders can see and comment on all of the great things we are doing (i.e. facebook, twitter, instagram, smore, snapchat).
  • Streamlined the communication process so that central office is delivering the message for all schools, not individual schools giving the message and creating confusion.
  • Held an outdoor 6th grade graduation at the request of parents.
  • Established  concise & consistent emergency procedures that everyone follows and now has clear information as to what to do in an emergency.
  • Implemented the “20time” program for students .
  • Realigned the G&T program so that it’s apart of the Tier III RtI program.
  • Created rubrics for candidates, allowing the most qualified to get the job.
  • Invited the community in on certain interviews for administrative positions.
  • Passed a budget that had a .64% increase, the lowest in 27 years.
  • Offered an administrative retreat so administrators had the time to collect thoughts, create goals, and be aligned for the upcoming school year.
  • Built in academic times for both RtI (Response to Intervention) and nationally recognized programs, including ST Math, MyON Reading, and the Cassini Space Project & Essay Contest.
  • Authorized a science project to be sent to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket.
  • Created additional coaching positions to include math, Title I, and assistance for our paraprofessionals.
  • Eliminated copious amounts of paperwork on all levels at all points of the year (over 42 documents were either eliminated or consolidated).
  • Established a 1:1 chromebook initiative for grades 2-6 and a tablet/iPad  program for grades K-2. 
  • Digitized the curriculum, forms, documents, and just about anything that could be.
  • Per student voice, purchased and added FOUR GaGa pits so students can maximize their recess time.
  • Sold an unoccupied building in the district that was costing the district over $12000.00 in yearly electric and alarm system bills.
  • Upgraded facilities equipment and sold damaged equipment.
  • Updated policies that are reflective of today’s times and pedagogies.
  • Revised the mission statement, philosophy, and vision of the district to reflect whom we as a community are today.
  • Upgraded HVAC systems, sinks, & closets, removed carpeting in all schools, and abated ALL asbestos throughout the District.
  • Installed a new gym floor and removed a carpeted gym floor (seriously, there was a carpeted gym floor).
  • Eliminated excessive standardized testing where it was not required.
  • Designed a new student assessment benchmarking system where all students are being  tested on the same areas with shorter assessments.
  • Eliminated redundancy for students by deleting curriculum overlaps and allowing prior scores to be accepted and not be retested. 
  • Created a real teacher’s room in a building where the prior one was less than 30 square feet.
  • Allowed our Home & School  Association to conduct multiple events and fundraisers that directly had positive impact on our students.
  • Established a community presence at town-wide events, including township committee meetings, library board meetings, and community fairs.
  • Obtained national recognition from NBC news, NewsELA, and CNN Money that showed superb progress in our district via news articles and national commercials.
  • Offered meaningful, effective Professional Development to teachers and administrators that needed it and wanted it. Who would have thought!
  • Represented the District nationally, including the White House, showing people what could be done and how it gets done.
  • Publicized the LifeLine Program, allowing those eligible for the $10.00 / month cable & internet access to receive a $9.75 grant, making your monthly charge a quarter.
  • Partnered with JerseyON to get students a wifi hotspot for their homes.  $78.00 got a hotspot with unlimited data that works for 5 years.
  • Inducted into the third cohort of InnovateNJ
  • Raised district-wide test scores in the areas on math and & ELA by immediate changes in instructional practices.

We have done more in this District in the past

12 months than the past 12 years.

This was no single-person effort; this was the result of hundreds, if not thousands of hours of work from staff members ranging from cafeteria workers to myself. We were told many of the things could not and would not happen.  We saw people waiting for things to fail, only to fly high in success. We came, we saw, we conquered. AND… our students, the reasons why we are all here in education, are reaping the benefits.

image credit: collectiveevolution.com
That doesn’t mean everything above was done with all smiles or in a snap. There were many meetings, pushback,  and even some tears.  Change is hard, and while people like to scream the word change, most don’t like TO change. Since I am the Chief School Administrator, I’m the one who catches the most grief when something happens that people don’t like.  Couple that with a divided board (I joined the District on a 5 yes, 4 no vote), and it complicates things even more.

image credit: AZquotes.com
Besides the split board, there was a pact of parents and teachers that saw me as enemy number 1 as well. Don’t be fooled – every Superintendent has a group, but mine have been very, very vocal. Meetings, tweets, posters, the soccer field; you name it, the rumor has been spread. While some rumors ranged from absurd to something from Mean Girls, I commend them for their persistence and presence, as you helped me in every single action taken this year. I couldn’t be happier. Let me reiterate and be clear – everyone collaborating for the above changes has been fantastic; those that loathed the efforts of change were the real catalyst in initiatives getting passed.  And the saddest part is that they didn’t even recognize that their negativity was being used in every step of the process. So, did I play them? Was this some Frank Underwood action?  No; I turned sour lemons into sweet lemonade. Remember, I am the Superintendent – I am the Chief Education Officer – every move I make and every smile I fake was done with calculation, knowing that it would cause a chain reaction to get what we wanted. And we did. As you can see, all changes really were a community-wide effort, lovers and loathers included. There’s nothing wrong with taking those that don’t like you or your efforts and harness their energy into something that works for your cause. I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction.


I have been quoted often for saying that “I am loved or loathed, and I wouldn’t have it any other way”.  You’re foolish if you think that everyone will love you, especially in my job. People always ask me if I worry about this when it comes to my career. Absolutely not.  When you’re great at what you do, you don’t need to worry about your job. The jobs come to you.

image credit: wwe.com  

Why do I love my haters so much?  Because they have helped me to calculate and execute almost every move I have made in my career. I learned quite a bit when I was a NJEA  building rep. I spent hours working with other NJEA members throughout the state on this stuff and how to get things done.  I don’t need to invest energy in publicity, don’t have to explain the other sides of much since they do it for me, and as the saying goes, “Any news is good news”. My haters will never realize that; they’ve helped me establish connections, gain statewide and national media attention, and most importantly, helped my family both financially and career wise.  So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. My family, my career, and my wallet thank you as well.

If you thought 2016 was wild, just wait until 2017.  Major items on the horizon, including collaborations with the Bermuda Department of Education, the Hawaii Department of Education, and some action in DC.


image credit: AZ Quotes

9000 Math Geeks

Would you ever think that over 9,000 people would attend a math fair on a Saturday? It happened! Last month, thousands of smiles descended upon the Orange County Fairgrounds for the third annual MIND Research Institute’s Math Fair.

Before I continue, I need to go on the record and state that I despised math in school. I loved algebra so much that I took it again the following year! It always left a bad taste in my mouth for two reasons. 1. I was adamant that I was never going to use any math, ever, and 2. I didn’t know what I was doing!

There were 28 exhibits located throughout the 2016 Math Fair, held this year at California’s Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

The first exhibit I stopped at consisted of about six or so sets of side-by-side train tracks upon which the Westford and Eastford “trains” virtually traveled. Participants worked out their calculations on screens, then entered the exhibit, placing tiny brain-shaped rubber markers alongside the point on the tracks where they thought the virtual trains would intersect.

Since this exhibit was designated grades three and up, Slaby, genial and encouraging, was convinced I could come up with the solution—in my head. Instead, my brain froze, and, only after he had stage-whispered the answer to me, did I set down my marker.

Matthew Peterson, CEO and co-founder of fair organizer Mind Research Institute, is intent upon transforming the perception of math from intimidating to something that’s exciting and approachable, and the Math Fair—always free and in its third year—is integral to this effort, giving attendees plenty of fun, hands-on mathematical experiences. How do I know this? Because I have been using his program, ST Math, for the past  four years. It has changed all of my thoughts and feelings about the relationship of school and math.

Other exhibits included golf-putting games like Bank Shot and Roll All Over, an exhibit called Blockopolis where geometric structures were created with foam blocks, and Lazer Box where lasers were sent traveling through arrangements of mirrors.

The idea for the event came out of the realization that what is often referred to as an “achievement gap” is actually an “experience gap” that forms from a disadvantage many students have in the amount of mathematical experiences they’re exposed to outside of school. The Math Fair attempts to close that experience gap by providing opportunities for families so that they can  build a love of math together.

The first fair, held in 2014 in Irvine, California, had roughly 4,200 registered attendees. The following year it moved to Chicago with 24 exhibits, over 300 volunteers and 5,500 registered attendees. This year’s event had 28 exhibits and 480 volunteers, and registered attendees surged to over 9,000.

I had to fight my way through the crush of people to try some of the challenges. I was pretty excited, not just because it was my first Math Fair, but because I was eager to see how thrilled the kids were to be there and how they interacted with the games. The coolest part of the fair? There is no sense of failure with any math activity.

There was also a Math Mystery Theater to catch the interactive show where primary-aged children—using computers and guided by two actors dressed as lab workers—tried to determine how many gumballs were in a jar. The kids’ calculations become more challenging when the actor playing the assistant sneaked gumballs into her mouth and then handed her “boss” a big wad of chewed-up gum. The kids had to guess how many gumballs were consumed, and their new calculations appeared on screens surrounding the stage. Again, a sea of smiles and laughter at a math fair… Think about that!

I hope this wasn’t my last fair. Such an infectious event needs to be shared all over. Math is cool after all!

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