Monthly Article Archives: September 2004

The New School Year: Orienting Staff and Students for SuccessRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In the past few weeks millions of children and adolescents have started or will soon start a new school year. As they do, I am reminded of many patients I have seen who have struggled with the demands of school and learning. While most were apprehensive as the first day of school approached, there were a number who also felt a sense of excitement, hoping that this year would be filled with success and achievement rather than frustration and failure. Unfortunately, for many, their hopes soon faded, overshadowed by feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and despair. Professionals who have attended my workshops are aware that I have long advocated instituting an “orientation” period at the beginning of the school year. During this period the main curriculum would not involve books or course material but rather activities that specifically build a foundation for a school climate that nurtures motivation, self-discipline, cooperation, hope, and resilience in students. I am not suggesting that formal academic work be avoided during the orientation period. However, the primary goal would be to strengthen a positive attitude towards teaching and a positive relationship with students; academic work would be included if it furthers this goal. If the initial

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