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How To Have The Best Semester Yet: Create A Student Dashboard (part 1)

Updated: 2 days ago

NOTE: This post is part of a series called "How To Have The Best Semester Yet." Each of these posts is drawn from the course, The Semester Success Blueprint, which is designed for parents or educators to work alongside students with ADHD or Autism, to help prepare them for a successful school semester. Learn more about the course by clicking here.


If you want to skip ahead and read the other posts in this series, click on the links below:



What can you expect this semester?

A new semester is upon us and as a parent or educator, you may be filled with part optimism and part dread.


In the past, you have seen your student go through the cycle I describe as CHASE. They start the semester committed, excited about the prospect of a new semester to prove they are finally going to "own" school.


But soon, hurdles emerge, in the form of:


  • Missing assignments

  • Low test-grades

  • Unflattering codes on report cards like "Needs to demonstrate more effort"

  • And more 😖


If nothing is done, you start to see alarms. If you are a parent, this might take the form of emails from the teacher or alerts to your parent management systems that your child is in danger of failing a class.


If you are a teacher, this might look like parents emailing you in frustration that their child continues to have missing assignments. "What are you doing to support my child!" they may exclaim, while you juggle the demands of hundreds of other needy students.


In this chaotic brew, the student may pick up on the nagging of their parents or the pushing of their teachers, and start the scramble, desperately attempting to catch up on missing assignments and past-due projects. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.


All this usually leads to the result of exhaustion. The student, teacher and parents, all sigh and resign themselves to this process, only to repeat semester after semester.


Does this sound familiar?


The "CHASE" process


Committed
Hurdles Emerge
Alarms
Scramble
Exhaustion

And now for something completely different

Let's imagine another universe in which a sophomore in high school, Aaron, ends the CHASE, and starts a new story for each semester. With support from his parents and teachers, this is quite possible.


Instead of walking into the semester "hoping for the best," Aaron sits down a week before school and opens up his copy of our digital planner. Within this planner he:


  • Lists out all his teacher's emails

  • Organizes his login information and key passwords for all school portals

  • Blocks in all his classes and where he needs to be throughout the day


Already, Aaron is feeling prepared for the upcoming semester, and he knows that he will easily be able to access all essential education information throughout the semester just by opening one document.


And that is only the start of Aaron's organizational journey. Through out this series, we will learn how Aaron:


  • Masters Time Management Using Google Calendar 📅

  • Learns the Art and Science of Communicating with Teachers using templates 📧

  • Breaks Mid-Terms & Finals Into Manageable Chunks 🔨

  • And more!


Today, let's start with the most important first step: setting up the student dashboard.


How to set up a student dashboard

A student dashboard is just what it sounds like -- a place where all the key information, resources, and plans, can be kept in one place. At Executive Function Specialists, we recommend using a digital planner and student dashboard for the following reasons:


  • Students who are prone to losing physical items cannot lose it (it is stored in the cloud)

  • All key information is password protected and thus more confidential

  • Many items are linked to Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets, thus making managing assignments easier

  • Saves paper


Step 1: Download a copy of the student dashboard

If you want to follow along, enter your email to download a copy of the Student Dashboard. Before doing this, you will need to make your own Google account. If you don't have one, you can watch this video to learn how.


Please note, when viewing the instructional video, make sure to click on the button, "Download the student dashboard," then when you have opened it, click "File --> Make A Copy". You will not be able to edit the original version that is shared with you in the video.



Step 2: Add in all key assignments, due dates, point values, and key links

Using an syllabi the teachers have provided, go through and add in all upcoming assignments with the due dates, point values, and key links.


Why add this information?

By adding the due date, you can then help your student prioritize what they should work on first.


By adding the point value, you can help them determine what assignment will have a bigger impact on their grade, and thus is more important to start with.


By adding the link, the student can easily jump to the assignment to work on it throughout the semester.



Step 3: Put in the names of all teachers and their contact information

This is such an important step! Students really struggle to get in contact with their teachers as school websites can be clunky and difficult to navigate.


By sitting down before the semester starts and ensuring you have up to date contact information for all teachers, your student will easily be able to contact them when these common situations arise:


  • They need an extension for an assignment

  • Additional help is needed to clarify directions

  • Requesting a practice test

  • And more!



This will really come in handy when your student needs a quick response and doesn't want to wade through archaic school websites to find contact information. Trust me!


Step 4: Store all key passwords, portal links, and other essential documents


The last step is go through the student dashboard and add in links for all the key portals. This may include:


  • Google Classroom

  • Canvas

  • Schoology

  • Aries

  • Powerschool

  • And more!



By doing this, your student will be able to quickly access their assignments, grades, and respond to teacher feedback.


I've seen students fail classes and enter academic probation because they lost their school passwords and didn't know how to login. Start the semester by storing all this key information in ONE PLACE. 🗝️


Conclusion

This email series will guide you through small steps that can have a HUGE impact on your student's success this semester.


If you want to take things a step further, consider enrolling in the Semester Success Blueprint course.


The 'Semester Success Blueprint' isn't just a course; it's a concise, actionable tool designed from years of expertise in executive function coaching and special education.


If you're looking for a strategic, effective approach to improve the educational experience for students with ADHD and ASD, this course offers practical solutions. It's structured to provide just what's necessary, avoiding overload while maximizing impact.


For those ready to make a real difference in how they or their loved ones manage academic challenges, I encourage you to explore what the 'Semester Success Blueprint' has to offer.


Click on the link below to start your journey towards more efficient learning and better educational outcomes today.



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About the author

Sean G. McCormick is a former public school special education teacher who founded Executive Function Specialists to ensure all students with ADHD and Autism have access to high-quality online executive function coaching services. 


With this mission in mind, he then founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains schools, educators, and individuals to learn the key approaches to improve executive function skills for students.


He is also the co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, a business with a mission to provide adults with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, access to high-quality executive function coaching services that can be accessed through Self-Determination funding.

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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