Brian Roodnick


Brian Roodnick has been a principal, international educational consultant, school inspector, a soldier, and, with all that, ran a drop in centre for homeless people. He is also a teacher: He has taught in Africa, North America, and China. He has taught in the slums of Soweto, blue collar schools in mining towns, and in rich elitist schools in Vancouver. His passion is for students to experience both joy and success at school, so that they can lay a good foundation to go on to tertiary studies or the working world. This book lays out a number of ways to work smarter, not harder, in order to achieve success in school.

Working with teenagers who were living on the street of Ottawa in the intense biting cold of the Canadian winter, Brian realized the importance of a student’s success in school. As a teacher and principal, he has spent his life showing students how to achieve extraordinary results in school. Now he shares some of his ideas so that struggling students can turn their school experience around, and go from quiet tears of frustration to confident smiles of success in school.


Many students struggle unnecessarily with school. For most, it has nothing to do with intelligence or their ability to work hard; rather, it simply comes down to a poor understanding of the institution we know as modern-day school. It is essential that students know how to put together the correct package of achievements to satisfy requirements successfully, and these results can be accomplished by working smarter rather than harder. Understanding self-management and how to adapt to school while simultaneously making school adapt to you will make a huge difference. Knowing yourself and knowing your school will give you a new understanding of how to more effectively play the education game and get the most out of it.


Learn thirty ways to work smarter rather than harder. Break the cycle of self-doubt and failure with real, achievable strategies to improve attitude and performance. Evaluate yourself and change your habits and schedule to better prepare yourself and ensure success at school. Know your learning style and mould school classroom etiquette to adapt to you.


  • Escape the crippling fear of ridicule, and learn to redirect the way see yourself so that you can move forward confidently.
  • Learn how to use that vibe from disappointment into learning energy for future success.
  • Attitude colours everything that you do: A bad attitude will make learning difficult and a positive attitude is a predictor of success. Learn how to take control of attitude as very powerful tool.
  • Understand your learning style, and learn how to make it work for you. Learn how to change the classroom learning environment to serve your learning style.
  • Is technology a prison to escape from, an addiction to avoid, or a learning force multiplier?
  • Discover the significant power of the balance of freedom and responsibility. Learn how to use responsibility to open the door to freedom.
  • You are often good at what interests you. Use this to your advantage.
  • Learn the importance of setting goals. If you aim at nothing, you will almost certainly achieve it. If you aim high, then even if you miss, you will do well.
  • Learn the importance of managing parents, teachers and other significant adults. They can be your worst enemy or your most supportive allies.
  • Sometimes grades are a game, and it’s good to know the rules of the match. Discover the importance of ‘Formula Writing’, understanding rubrics, and the tricks to powerful speeches and presentations.
  • Choose your friends wisely. Friends will significantly affect your attitude to everything. Choose kind and supportive friends.
  • Having a great time management system really helps when the work builds up. Learn how to use technology to assist you in your planning. Avoid the pain of late assignments and the stress of not having time to prepare for tests.
  • Be prepared for the adolescent identity crisis. Adolescence is not just about hormones and a changing body—it is also a time when people search for meaning and a purpose for life. This can be scary but it can also be fun as you try on different ideas. Maximize this opportunity.
  • Bullies are a sad fact of life, gaining social power at the expense of others. Learn how to neutralize bullies and get out of the victim zone. Life is too short to have the ‘best years of your life’ ruined by a bully.