We hear it all the time: Ready, Set, Go! Ready means there is a level of preparedness for what is to come. Parents ask, “Are you ready to go?” as they head to the car to run an errand or go on a trip.

It points toward having everything you need for the next step. In a race, the runner understands the distance, direction, and destination of the race. In order for a kid to be truly ready for the car trip, they need their gear, or clothes, or whatever is necessary to get in the car and go.

We all get this.

I think this is a significant goal in educating freshmen. We want them ready.

When freshmen leave high school, we want them ready for what’s next as young adults. When they get to the end of a semester, we want them ready for the final exam. When they get to the end of a chapter, we want them ready to do well on the test. When they walk into our classrooms, we want them ready for the instruction that will take place there.

But sometimes freshmen are not ready. Most will admit that it’s discouraging and frustrating not to be ready.

Personally, I don’t like going to meetings when I’m not ready. If I was required to go someplace each day and wasn’t ready, I would hate it. I wouldn’t want to go. If I had to go, maybe I would become funnier or louder or more invisible to hide my lack of readiness. Maybe I wouldn’t care or pretend not to care as protection from the shame of not being ready.

I hear of parents asking their son or daughter when they come home from school this question: Do you have any homework? I think this is a good question, but it doesn’t quite go far enough. The question isn’t homework, while that is certainly part of it, but rather a question of readiness. I would suggest a better question that parents could ask their students as they come home from school: Are you ready for tomorrow?

As educators we need to help students to be ready. There are a number of things we can do  to help that process:

  1. To be READY is to T.O.P.A.! We need to make this process overt.

  • Think through what was done and what is coming.

  • Organize what was done and what is coming.

  • Plan/Prioritize what to do.

  • Act based on this thinking, organizing, and prioritizing.

Doing these things leads to readiness.

       2. When students aren’t ready, coach them.

The Freshman Academy gathers students who aren’t ready into a classroom each day and feeds them lunch. I spend six minutes of that time giving them ideas in an effort to alleviate this lack of readiness.

And I tie it all into T.O.P.A.