The Third Quarter Grind: How to find success in the toughest part of the school year

Q3 is make or break time! The third quarter is when best laid plans either triumph or fall apart. In fact, research shows that students who procrastinated during the first semester may have done well during the fall but they will likely perform worse in the spring, since all the build up of last minute panics, incomplete work and overall stress that had accumulated turns into a heavier and more stressful load in the spring.  On the other hand, students who worked consistently throughout the fall term will reap the benefits of that investment in less pressure, fewer challenges, and higher overall performance. It’s funny, though, because the same thing applies to teachers and schools. Year after year as a high school teacher, I saw how all the beginning of the year administrative, department and individual teacher planning was out the window by the Third Quarter, and it was panic and push time in order […]

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is an emotion “Why don’t you just do it!” “You waste so much time playing video games!” “Do your homework!” It’s so easy for parents and teachers to get down on students who procrastinate – they’ll drive you nuts because it seems so simple: just do your work! Procrastination is an emotional self-regulation struggle, not a moral deficiency. Procrastinators aren’t “lazy,” “distracted,” or “uncaring.” What they suffer from is a deficiency in emotional self-regulation. What we mean by that is that they are not fully in control of their emotional responses to their academic workflow. So the worst thing we can do to a procrastinator is to call him or her “lazy.” That only reinforces the procrastination. Instead, procrastinators need help to overcome the impulse to put off work that is causing them anxiety.   Here’s how it works: Facing an “aversive” or unenjoyable or difficult task causes anxiety. To dismiss that anxiety procrastinators  […]

“Have you done your homework?” or what else a parent can do to build student academic independence?

academic ownership Tired of asking your child about homework? All parents want to support their child’s academics. But they also want to be able to walk away and watch their child manage school on their own. It’s a tricky thing to find that right balance between helicoptering and watching helplessly from the outside. The one risks becoming nagging and backfiring while the other risks missing help that a child really needs. So how to find that balance? Student Ownership This term is so often tossed around in education so as to lose meaning. So let’s spell out what we mean by “academic ownership”: awareness self-advocacy problem solving will power executive function Awareness means knowing what’s due tomorrow or next, it means knowing the current grades, and, most importantly, it means knowing what is expected of the student by teachers, textbooks and assignments. Self-advocacy means standing up for oneself. It starts with knowing what you need […]