Something crazy good for the kid that’s just fine

Disclaimer: This program is under construction. Implementation may cause sudden and significant changes. Buckle your seatbelts. 

If a freshman has straight A’s, he or she is on the right track. If a freshman is failing all of his or her classes, there are adults in this building that are on the job to help. But what about the freshman that’s just fine? He or she is passing all classes, making it to class on time, and doing high school. What about them?

Is there something that we are missing, an opportunity for growth that has yet to be realized?

I’m getting ready to launch a semester-long goal setting pilot for these freshmen in the middle third of our class rank.

This will be a program for about 20 students.

It’s called In the Circle and has three components.

  1. A Small Circle of Friends

  2. A Small Important Task

  3. A Daily 360


A Small Circle of Friends –

For the pilot program each of the four teams on The Freshman Academy will select five students that meet the following criteria:

  • a freshman in good standing with regard to attendance and behavior

  • a freshman who DOES NOT have straight A’s

  • a freshman who has one or fewer F’s

  • a freshman whom the team believes would be open to joining this endeavor

  • the teams would seek to identify a group of four or five freshmen that have a positive relationship with each other


A Small Important Task – 

This small task is one of the student’s own design. We all have small things that we wished we did, things that would bolster our respect for ourselves. I started this with the teachers on The Freshman Academy at the beginning of this school year. Here are their small tasks:

  • Get my kids to bed at a specific time

  • Start the transition to bed at 9:00 pm

  • Have patience with my child during the morning routine

  • Stretch each night and get 7+ hours of sleep

  • Lose weight by eating right and exercising

  • Spend only a specific amount on clothes each month

  • Doing something for me each night that’s relaxing

  • Walk every day after school

  • Run 250 miles this semester

  • Drink only one can of Diet Coke each day

  • Spend 10 minutes each day in prayer/meditation

  • Spend five minutes cleaning up my house every day

  • Spend time with my spouse not talking about work at least two days a week

They are straightforward activities. As I watched the teachers successfully do these simple tasks, I saw their enjoyment and energy in their professional world increase as well.

When I posed this question to students in the hallway over the last couple of days, I received some surprising answers:

What’s a mad skill or something that you wish you were doing that may or may not have anything to do with school?

  • learn to do a handstand

  • learn French

  • practice my guitar

  • learn how to do my taxes (Real answer!)

  • practice my Spanish vocabulary for 10 minutes each day

  • take really cool pictures

  • skateboarding

  • I don’t know

  • working on not being so shy

  • learn how the brain works

Many of these need refining, but I was surprised by how seriously they took the question. One student even came back later in the day to ask why I had asked the question in the first place.

The task will need to go through the S.M.A.R.T progress, which will be part of the early training. The objective is finding something very small, very doable, and very relevant to the student.

A Daily 360 – 

The second task is creating a time and place to review their day, to take a 360 of what happened at school. The literature on journaling every day and its benefits are significant. One blog that lays it out nicely is Benjamin Hardy’s blog on Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life. Students, or for that matter many adults, do not take the time to think over their day.

I will ask student to take 360 seconds (6 minutes) five times a week to go through a simple Google Form about their day. Here are the questions:


In the Circle – Ready?

Freshmen, take 360 seconds to complete this form!


1. Is your cell phone in airplane mode/do not disturb?


No, I just can’t do it!

It’s broken/out of power.

Other :

2. Is your music off and your focus on?


No, I can’t get away from my music.

I’m just getting this done. Lots going on!

Other :

This is followed by a question for each period.

1st Period – List or write about ideas, new vocab, activities, or homework from today.

2nd Period – List or write about ideas, new vocab, activities, or homework from today.

3rd Period – List or write about ideas, new vocab, activities, or homework from today.

 . . .  and so on.

Final Question

How did you do on your personal task today?

   Fantastic – Crushed it!

   Good – I’m in the game!

   Not so good – Kind of didn’t do so well today.

   Didn’t do it today.

   Other :

Give a sentence or two about how things went today. Be specific. (Remember that others can view this.)


So that is the overarching structure of what will be attempted. The nuts and bolts will emerge in the weeks the come. The launch will be the last week of January. It is meant to be simple and relevant:

  • Friends they know

  • Tasks that matter

  • Structure that’s easy

It should be interesting.