What Students Should Be Focusing On

Back to school resources to get your students into new mindsets and open to learning more than just the common core.

Have you ever wondered how prepared for life your students are? If they could actually make it in the real world, beyond the structured school environment?

Since we’re in the business of getting students ready for college and their future careers, we decided to share some insights we’ve found most helped in being a successful human.

We get that there’s the big picture of everything students and teachers alike feel like they need to master and teach…. It can be overwhelming. That’s why this year, we’d like students to work on growing and expanding the ways they think.


Curiosity and inquisitiveness are about aspiring to know, to carry the spark of interest that gives rise to inquiry and presses for illumination. To be curious, one should take interest in the why of things, especially when they don’t add up.

Being curious and asking effective questions makes you wise, so it is important to practice every day! Curiosity is one of the first steps students can take in taking on new experiences or listening to others.

Asking why questions is a great way to start, and as they come more naturally, begin to emphasize what, when, and how questions. For instance, “What led you to that answer?” or “How might I learn how to do ___?”

Curiosity will give insight into what makes people tick and how things work.

Here’s some articles to read more about curiosity and thinking critically:

5 ways curiosity benefits your life (Caroline, Feb 27 2016)

Redefining Education to Include More Meaningful Critical Thinking, (HuffPost, June 20 2016)


The ability to understand and identify with the feelings of other beings. In contrast to sympathy (feeling with), empathy (feeling into) projects or imagines oneself into another person’s position.

People more prone to empathy are able to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand what they are going through, and to use that understanding to inform their actions.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. — Teddy Roosevelt

In bridging thinking with empathy, it helps students get out of their own headspace, to explore how others are experiencing life and everything around them. From these new perspectives, students can learn how to listen and understand their peers and teammates.

Here’s some articles to read up on the power of empathy and how to develop it:

The Power of Empathy (RSA Video, Dec 2013)

Teaching Kids Empathy: In Danish schools, it’s…well, it’s a piece of cake (Salon, Aug 9 2016)

CEO says listening is the single most important and underrated skill in life(Business Insider, Feb 2016)


Self-management, self-control, along with personal reflection, self-alignment, self-assessment, self-regard— all of these are about looking internally and figuring out what you like and are proud of, and what you might want to change about yourself.

Realizing one’s internal states — feelings, intuitions, preferences, resources — and their external effects helps students in the process of identifying what’s important to them. And in that process, students need to feel an ability to grow and change, otherwise feeling limited and fixed could restrict their potential.

Some articles and resources on personal development and self reflection:

The 3 Personal Development Goals Successful People Pursue Habitually (Entrepreneur, Jan 2015)

Classroom Poster: 8 Phrases to Nurture a Growth Mindset (We Are Teachers)

Sonia Sotomayor Tells Grads to Embrace the Awful “Uh-Oh’ Moments (Huffington Post, May 22 2016)

Every Kid Needs a Champion (Ted Talk, Apr 2013)

Our advice to students: Dial up your change ability by stepping out of your comfort zone. Change is the drive to pursue complexity, novelty, or variety, and to avoid predictability of order and routine. When change occurs, it could lead you to a new way of seeing or doing things that you might actually prefer.

Get to know yourself, and then figure out what you what to become and work to be that. To see ow you measure on over 100 attributes and mindsets, take the PAIRIN survey for free here and see how you measure on self-alignment, change, and many more.

Everyone has traits they think were the most important in helping them succeed. For us, these three seem to be among the top of most lists.

Use our free survey to see how you, your friends, and your students all compare on these skills and 100 other ones with PAIRIN Personal. Get insights here into skills that will support you in your life.

Obviously, there’s other important skills that aren’t specifically listed here. We measure over 100 mindsets and attributes that, when their use is mastered, lead people to success. Get to know them and yourself with our free survey and the new PAIRIN Personal.