It’s the start of a new semester. And what does that mean? That we’re still mentally on vacation. But it also means that because it’s the start, we have this amazing opportunity right within our grasp. Soon enough we’re going to get caught up with assignments, midterms, group projects and what not. So before we dive into that, I think it’s worth looking back on our experiences last semester.
Most of you probably filled in your course evaluations, which is going to be great in helping professors cultivate their interaction skills within the classroom. It will also be helpful to future students who take the class because they will benefit from your feedback. But most importantly, at this point, it is of significance to you. It’s easy to identify the professor’s mistakes and positive habits but it’s harder to think about your contribution and take on the responsibility to maintain or change. I’m sure at different points last semester you thought to yourself “hey this worked well” or “man, I messed that up real bad”. In the moment we think that something that worked out either really well or really badly, will have a long term impact in how we plan our lives. And sometimes it does. But it’s also easy to wake up the next morning and fall back into the same old routine.
So this semester let’s change that. Think about two good things that helped better your classroom experience last semester and think about two things that didn’t work out so well. These should be things you have control over— things you can change to alter the situation.
Now think about the specific things in your day or about yourself that contributed to this. Maybe the workload made you stressed and anxious to the point where you skipped classes and didn’t know how to talk to the professor about it. Write down little things that may have contributed to this stress. There’s almost always never just one big reason for these things, but changing even a tiny habit goes a long way. Plus changing one habit motivates you to change another. It keeps the ball rolling. So make a new list of how you can incorporate more of the good habits that contributed to your successes last semester and make a list of what you can do to alter the habits that lead to your mistakes. This may be overwhelming at first. However the act of breaking down last semester’s highs and lows into small daily habits should reveal to you that, maintaining or changing these habits isn’t as hard as you thought. Try doing it for one habit and you’ll see. No one is going to be more grateful than you two months from now.