But later comes too late, and the work never gets completed. Sound familiar? Not only do we teachers deal with students who procrastinate, but we also struggle with personal procrastination. It’s a problem in the classroom for all stakeholders. We teachers need to battle back the procrastination monster for our students and for ourselves. But how? It’s starts with our own personal work ethic that then affects our lesson planning, and the structure of the assignments we give our students. The more disciplined the teacher, the more disciplined the class, and the more successful the students.
We all do it, but in different ways. I love to start out strong, and finish on time. It’s that pesky middle section that usually gets in my way. I’ll work to a point where I feel comfortable in taking a break. Breaks are good. They give us time to reflect and refocus our efforts. It’s the starting back up again that is challenging. I get easily distracted by entertainment (darn those fuming fowls); interrupted by personal engagements (somebody always needs me to do something immediately); and by life itself (we all need to sleep sometimes, don’t we?)
I know I need to write lesson plans, but who has the time? We need to change that attitude about our planning. Of course we need to be flexible, but the better we plan out our daily classroom routine, the better the results that we will receive from our students. Kids know when a teacher has their act together, or not, and they take advantage of the weaknesses of their instructors. So over plan your day, your week, even your school year, and do so BEFORE you actually stand up in front of your pupils to teach them.
Most people will argue that they work best under pressure. As teachers, we need to keep the pressure on our students and hold them accountable moment by moment in the classroom. But how? Requiring students to produce quality work on a daily basis, perhaps even multiple times during each class period, is a great way to start. Creating assignments that do not allow for delayed response is a skill that we can all develop over time. Time management is a crucial (Common Core) skill that all students need to learn which we can easily facilitate through our lessons.
Building in “think time” to reflect and revise is very important. This is the area that most often gets eliminated as a deadline approaches. It is during this step that the finer details are polished and a good project becomes a great one. So making sure to schedule our time effectively while both preparing for class as well as preparing our assignments is crucial. Putting off putting things off is the key. My father called it “deferred gratification.” So “keep your eye on the prize,” and, “don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Later on.