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Planning, stage 2: The plan
  • Calendar May 29, 2018
  • User Jared Wells
  • Category In Uncategorized
  • Comments 0 Comments
So the planning time has been set. Our student has figured out how to sit down in the same place every afternoon at 3pm and have the information and materials they need to write an effective plan for that day. So, how do we do that? First we need to answer this question: What IS a plan? And the best way to start to answer is to answer this question: What is NOT a plan? Here are some things that students commonly confuse for plans: -A list of tasks is NOT a plan -A due date for an assignment is NOT a plan -A test date is NOT a plan -An unwritten intention (eg. a student knowing that, at some point today, he has to study for a biology test) is NOT a plan A plan consists of the following components -A goal -Specific steps needed to achieve that goal -Time scheduled for completing each step

Component 1: A goal

Many students (plenty of adults too!) just react as life happens to them without looking toward the future and thinking about what they want for their future selves. And if a student doesn’t think about her future self, it’s no wonder that, the night before the biology test, she hasn’t done anything to prepare for it. Thinking about what you want for your future self is just another name for goal setting. I’ll do a future blog post on goal setting, but the key idea for students is How can parents help? Most importantly, check in with your son or daughter about their goals. When you hear that they have a test coming up, ask, “What is your goal for that test?” When they have a paper, ask, “What goal have you set for the grade?” It’s likely that your son or daughter didn’t have a particular goal in mind, and asking that question can help them to formulate the goal in their mind. This is the first step of planning.

Component 2: Specific steps to achieve the goal

Once the goal is set, an action plan can be created. So, if the goal is “An A on my biology test next week.”, it’s time to identify the specific actions that will help to achieve that goal, like Do my biology reading and note-taking before class Talk to the teacher about my last test to find out why I didn’t perform well. Meet with a tutor the week of the test Meet with a group study the weekend before the test. Create flashcards for the vocabulary. Create a mind-map for the chapter. Review chapter and notes the two days before the test. And so on. As you can see, these are already above and beyond the homework required for the class. Also note that some tasks have subtasks. Explicitly identifying the individual steps is crucial for two reasons. First, imagine yourself trying to keep a 7 task list straight in your head. Tough, right? I can’t even remember 7 items to get at the grocery store if I don’t write them down! Now imagine keeping a list straight that hasn’t actually been fully formed in the first place! It’s stressful having this black, disorganized mess of “I have to do things for biology” in the back of your mind. Whereas once it is down on paper, it isn’t quite so scary! This list actually seems pretty achievable two weeks out, right? Secondly, writing the action items out is necessary for the third part of planning: scheduling. How can parents help? When you hear that your son or daughter has a goal that is out of line with past performance, encourage them, but ask, “What are you going to do differently this time?” or “What is your plan to improve over last test?” If your child doesn’t have an answer, help them brainstorm ideas. If they give you ideas, ask, “When are you going to do that?” Encourage them to write their “when’s” in their planner. Be supportive, but be realistic: doing things the same way as previously is not going to achieve a different result.

Component 3: Time scheduled for completing each step

Once the necessary actions are identified, it’s time for the student to sit down with his planner and schedule these items. This means the student will need to a) estimate how long each task will take, and b) assign each task a start time. These start times and duration should be scheduled on a calendar in the student’s planner! Write on the calendar what day and time they will do their mind-map for the chapter, talk to the teacher, and create (and study) flashcards. If a task is important enough to be done in the first place, it is important enough to be scheduled! You can see that some of these tasks actually have subtasks. “Doing biology reading and notetaking before class” should actually be scheduled out, day by day. How parents can help? Encourage scheduling! As I said in the previous email, give students more freedom and flexibility on weekdays when they’ve scheduled their time out. Look over their schedule, and ask them about time frames that, to you, seem overly optimistic. If they fail to stick to their schedules (we all do sometimes, right?), help them problem solve with positivity and love (which we’ll talk about in the next blog post). -Vince

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