We are approaching the end of the semester and kids are “suddenly” concerned with how their grades are doing. This is a serious issue. When a teacher plans for information to be learned throughout a semester, there is no possible way it could be learned in a couple of weeks. Mastery of the subject is not possible. If the class happens to be a performance based class, where the physical presence of the student is important, such as a choir, band, or drama class, there is no possible way to make up time lost in rehearsal in a few days.
Again, school should be in the business of training future adults. Students need to learn and should be able to organize their work load, meet deadlines, and complete assignments without help or reminders from their parents and teachers. Real adults are able to master these skills.
Perhaps we, the adults, are failing these kids. We are trying so hard to achieve a short-term win of that better grade by “doing too much” for these kids, by redoing the math or rewriting the essay. These short-term win strategies are leading to long term costs. In an effort to leave no child behind, we have led these kids to believe that they are not capable of doing things for themselves without the help of parents or teachers. They are becoming adults who are confused and lack productivity because they are not accustomed to thinking, doing, and planing for themselves.
Students have many opportunities to learn the skill of time management. As parents and educators we have opportunities to encourage teens to flex their self-regulatory muscles. We can help them find specific, meaningful, simple goals, such as improving their grades on their own or getting a driver’s license, before tackling the larger goals of getting into college. We can help them develop a plan for short and long term goals, a plan with steps to reach those goals. We can help them identify problems or road blocks to their goals, then help them to develop strategies to overcome what may hold them back. We can help them find and conquer habits or impulsive behaviors by teaching them to monitor their progress to see whether or not they are “working” the plan or whether they are being distracted from the plan. We can help them to recognize the lessons of difficult experiences. We can help they to consider what went wrong and what they could do differently next time. We can help them become more aware of the effects of interruptions… especially the interruptions provided by all their electronic devises. Students would do well to stop learning to “multitask” and to actually prioritize tasks. (Seriously, it is okay to put the phone down). We can help them recognize the motivations of others, to analyze why someone might act in a certain way and to come up with other alternatives as to why that might be. We can encourage teens to keep a journal, to foster self- reflection or self-talk to work through steps, feelings and thoughts in a positive, productive manner.
Students… learn to break a project down into smaller parts. Make a reasonable plan and then work the plan. Make a time line for yourself for completing an assignments. It will help you steer clear of the end-of-the-semester mad dash to get your grades up. Learn to self-monitor yourself. Set a timer. When it goes off see if you completed the assignment as you planned (better yet, set a timer on activities such as SnapChat, Twitter, instagram, and Facebook). Set aside time with NO DISTRACTIONS and practice focused attention. Write notes. Use a calendar of all deadlines. Journal. Use the journal to track feeling and to pause and consider what went well in a project and what did not. Use what you learn to improve productivity.
Truthfully, you can not manage time. You can only manage the events in your life in relation to time. You will not get more time. You only get 24 hours each day. How you use that time depends on you… your development of skills to self-analyze, plan, evaluate and control your actions. Time is both valuable and limited. It must be protected, used wisely, and budgeted. It takes practice. Students need to begin early with that practice…. then, we will have the begins of real adults.