Adam Burkholder


July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

SCHOOL BEAT A Foundation for Motivation by ADAM BURKHOLDER Assistant Principal Rockford High School Motivating students, increasing self-esteem, and assisting in the building of a foundation for successful individuals are endeavors, or achievements, I take pride in as a professional and as a parent. Striving to always be better, I am continuously looking for ways to improve who I am and what I am doing for students and my children alike. My constant pursuit led me to a book I’ve completed for the second time. The book is titled “Mindset,” and the main idea presented is to acknowledge the effort your students and children put into something rather than stating how good, how smart, how talented they may be. Author Carol Dweck has devoted her career to the psychology behind the success of individuals. Focusing on how an individual can grow what they are naturally good at is at the forefront of her research. Her ideas challenged me to look at how I receive feedback/constructive criticism, how I give it, and how I can further benefit from feedback and results in general. Dweck provides examples to the reader of different individuals who have characterized both forms of mindset. John McEnroe is a prime example of someone who embodies the fixed mindset. When things were going well on the court, he and his talents were responsible for his success, but when he was losing it was his opponent’s fault, the referee’s fault, the weather conditions, the fans, or his trainer. The bottom line is that it was never his fault that he wasn’t succeeding. On the other end of the spectrum is Jackie Joyner Kersee. She is one of the most celebrated Olympic athletes in having earned a total of six Olympic medals in three different events, three of which were gold, one silver, and two bronze. Of these accomplishments, personally she is most proud of her bronze medal earned at the age 34 while competing in the long jump competition. More work went into earning that bronze medal than any of those she had previously won. This exemplifies the growth mindset. A brief overview of the book “Mindset” can be found at and a portion of it has been provided below: “In a fixed […]


January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Study Better, Not Longer by ADAM BURKHOLDER Assistant Principal Rockford High School Quite often, when working with both parents and students, you hear and perhaps you have experienced, “I studied for two hours and still didn’t perform well on the test!” The question that should then be posed is how did they study? Students more times than not are quick to own up to and identify the fact that they did not study when poor results are yielded on an assessment. A student’s frustration does not stem from having not studied, but rather having spent time and energy on something and not experiencing success. Although not always the case, when I ask students how they studied, the response tends to be, “I read my notes and the materials over and over, thought I knew the information, and still struggled on the test.” Read, then reread habits may work in some cases, but as curriculum becomes more rigorous, students lose the ability to relate to the material on a personal level and retention becomes more of a process. In research that has been conducted by neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and educational psychologists, there is insight that can make studying more productive for students. Spaced repetition is the first technique for a stronger relationship between a learner and the information being studied. Rather than sitting down for an extended period of time, research shows that students will recall information better if they study in smaller increments of time. My suggestion for students has been to study for 15 to 25 minutes and then get up, move around, do something that they want to do for 5 to 10 minutes, and then go back to studying. In a recent article published in The New York Times, studies have shown that students who used this technique had double the retention rate compared to those peers who simply studied in large segments of time. Spaced repetition may still take as much time as studying in large increments, but it is more effective. Above and beyond spaced repetition, students need to do something with the information at hand. Simply reading the notes/pages of the text is not the best approach to studying. Every time a memory is retrieved, it fortifies that specific […]

No separation between school, community

September 30, 2010 // 0 Comments

by Adam Burkholder Assistant Principal, North Rockford Middle School  “Rockford!” What is your initial thought when you hear this? Is it schools? Is it community? Is it both? From my perspective, the two entities are synonymous—when you refer to one you are speaking of the other as well. Upon graduation from college and being hired here in Rockford, the popular question from former college teammates was “How can you move back and teach in the district you grew up in?” My initial answer to that question was to encourage those friends to come see for themselves, and many of them have. Now that most of us have children, the answer has taken on a more deeply rooted answer. The blending of school and community is a powerful instrument in the success of our students, our schools, and the community of Rockford as a whole, and I am honored to be part of this community. City and school leaders are continuously looking for ways to grow together. Our students will have yet one more opportunity to become involved for the betterment of both school and community. The well-established Lions Club approached me last year about getting a junior Lions Club (Leo Club) going in the middle schools. Last year the concept began at East Rockford Middle School and will be carried over to the remaining secondary buildings this school year. The Leo Club will be comprised of students who want to give back to both their school and community. The only prerequisite is that you are a student in grades 7-12 here in Rockford. In organizing my thoughts prior to speaking to our seventh- and eighth-graders from last year, I wondered how important community involvement was from a post-secondary perspective. On nearly every college application I reviewed (both in state and out of state), one of the first questions was: What community organizations have you been involved in? Now, the idea of starting a Leo Club in the secondary schools was not simply for the purpose of providing substance students can apply to a college application, but rather I feel it emphasizes the fact that getting involved in communities is a positive and powerful device for both individuals and groups as a whole. There is no distinct […]