Many students believe that they must push through school entirely on their own. While students need to do their own independent work they should build a team that can help them navigate the social and academic aspects of High School. Every student’s team will be different and may change over time as their needs shift and their independence grows.

Because teams are so personalized, it is vital to help students identify who is already apart of their team, and who they might want to think about adding. I like to help my students review their team at the beginning of every school year. This helps them proactively prepare before problems arise.  When they know who they can ask for help they can avoid getting stuck for prolonged periods of time.

Technology can help students create a broader team that is not limited to their home or town. For example, Khan Academy originated because he was helping his nephews with math online.  Using video conferencing can help students connect with family and friends who are uniquely situated to offer help.

This list can help students brainstorm:

Academic Coach
Extended Family
Teacher Assistants
School Staff

I have found that it is comforting to students to realize that they have others whom they can go to when they get stuck. Too often students wait for extended periods of time before they realize that they need external help and have often lost opportunities in class to master the material. By setting up a concrete list ahead of time, they avoid common pitfalls such as, procrastination, extreme frustration, or internalizing the challenge as a character deficit.