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New trimester, fresh beginnings and steps for success

New trimester, fresh beginnings and steps for success
By Dr. Steve Gibbs, Principal, Cambridge-Isanti High School

One of the things I love about starting school each fall is the clean slate that students, teachers and families have. A fresh start, a new beginning. 

And while it may be December, I want to encourage a similar mindset. The first trimester has shown us a lot — including strengths, opportunities and challenges. And our students’ grades tend to reflect that. 

But let me remind all of us that our students are not their grades and achievements. Student or adult, our identity lies in who we are, especially when life offers adversity. And we all know that the last 20 months or so have given us seemingly unending opportunities to work through adversity. 

I believe that the way a person chooses to tackle that adversity says more about their character than a grade or test score ever will. When kids show up to school every single day, with a smile, they are overcoming adversity. When kids show up to work hard academically every day, they are overcoming adversity. 

You may feel like your student’s first trimester was a smashing success  — or something less than that. No matter how you feel, let’s remember that first trimester represents one third of the school year. What matters more is we respond and grow through the rest of the year.

As we begin the second trimester, I encourage our students and their families to consider these three steps.

  1. Talk about what went well in the first trimester — and where there’s room for improvement. This conversation should encourage curiosity and reflection and be conducted with compassion for the adversity that students and families have faced over nearly two years. 
  2. Identify two or three habits or routines that can help improve where things came up short. Consistent routines make a positive difference for people of all ages. Consider bedtime routines, morning routines, even evening and weekend routines. Would posting a weekly family calendar with time reserved for homework, family and social time help? What places in the daily or weekly hustle might benefit from greater consistency? What will be the easiest way to be consistent until the habits become familiar routines?
  3. Make growth the focus for second trimester by taking small, intentional steps. Consider adopting this simple goal: “Get better in some way each day.” Don’t compare yourself to others' successes or failures. Just do your personal best and know that our Bluejacket values of respect, responsibility, honesty, self-discipline and compassion will never lead you wrong.

In closing, I want to encourage our students, teachers and families to let the first trimester — good or bad — fall clearly into your rearview mirror. If you’ve established a simple second trimester plan for consistency, learning and growth, there’s no need to hang onto what’s already happened. After all, your character and identity are rooted not in your performance, but rather in your resilience and grit, no matter what life brings.