Students and Time Management

One of the great things about student teaching in a Master’s program is having a lovely cohort of student teacher peers to learn with and from. My classmate Camilla just posted A Mini-Research on Study Strategies for one of our classes on supporting struggling learners. Here is my response.

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Thanks for this engaging post! You cite a lot of research saying that teaching self-monitoring strategies is key, and we have spent a lot of time in our program discussing how to support students’ metacognition. I am curious what you think about encouraging or requiring students to use planners? I always used a written calendar (and then Google Calendar) in late middle and early high school to structure my assignments/homework schedule and also to keep track of my daily appointments etc. However, I know a lot of students of all ages who really struggle with keeping a calendar consistently, and I know I personally would have benefitted from more support around structuring my study time as part of my daily life.

I once tutored a bright middle schooler whose main struggle was organizational skills and homework management. I strongly encouraged him to keep a planner, but the only times he would write down his assignments and his plan of when to work on them was when I was physically with him. This meant that he had a half-week of really organized homework time with assignments broken down into manageable parts, and a half-week of unscheduled work. I expected that he would discover how much easier it was to do his work and studying when he had a plan and thus start doing it himself, but he did not. However, he did manage to complete everything on time, and he was comfortable enough with his homework completion by the end of the semester that he felt he no longer needed tutoring. Do you think calendars are necessary for everyone, or that maybe there are different types of organizational tools that work better for different people? I always wonder – was the calendar just redundant for him, or could he have done more efficient work if he’d been willing to keep it up (and been encouraged by family to do so)? And if he didn’t need it in middle school, is calendar-keeping a skill he’ll find he actually really does need in high school or college? Should we be teaching young kids to how to organize their time when they still have quite manageable schedules in preparation for when their schedules get horribly hectic (which is coming earlier and earlier, these days!) Or should we offer these supports as they are needed/asked for, trusting each student to come to their own method of time management?