As much as some students would like to deny this, the fact is that essays, projects, and long-term assignments are right around the corner. With the start of the school year comes many great things—the opportunity for students to show what they know is one of them, whether they want to admit it or not. One of the more difficult tasks during the school year can be the larger, multi-step assignments that transpire over several weeks. Here are some tried and true tips from an educator to assist with the task of managing long-term assignments.
Plan It Out
Often times, teachers will provide students with a suggested schedule, graphic organizer, or guide for completing the assignment in a manageable and timely fashion. These suggestions often come strongly recommended, whether they are officially deemed as graded checkpoints or not. Since teachers are the ones who have created the assignment to begin with, it is reasonable to expect that they have a solid understanding of how to appropriately plan for such a task. If the teacher has not provided an outline or any sort of mandatory checkpoints, it is strongly recommended that the student map out a personal schedule. This is beneficial in several different ways—it holds the student accountable for each aspect of the task; it allows the student to view the task holistically, while simultaneously grasping the requirements of each portion; and it supports time management and organization.
If a student is confused about any aspect of the long-term assignment, it is imperative that he ask his teacher for clarification. Playing the guessing game or “winging it” is never recommended. Asking questions immediately sidesteps the issue of having to start over, which saves time and frustration. It also helps the teacher to see the assignment from the student’s perspective, allowing her to provide further instruction or clarification for the class. Asking questions from the start allows the student to fully grasp the objectives of the assignment, thus helping him meet the expectation.
Study the Rubric
A long-term assignment should always be accompanied by a rubric or checklist of some sort. This item indicates how the task is going to be scored or assessed. Students should not only read through, but also look carefully at the rubric to ensure that they have every opportunity to succeed on the assignment. Again, asking questions for clarity is a wonderful way to gain a better understanding of what exactly is required of the student.
Speak to Your Teacher if Falling Behind
Students often forget that teachers were once young learners themselves—we are caring, accommodating, and understanding. We are also in tune with our students’ capabilities. If the task or assignment is truly overwhelming or unmanageable, students should be able to speak openly with the teacher about the difficulties. Of course, be proactive about this discussion. DO NOT wait until the due date to ask for an extension or clarification—this will likely not be met with an obliging response. Speak up as soon as you find yourself in the weeds. This way, your teacher knows that you are not procrastinating—you simply need some assistance.
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