Working in desperation
As a teacher, I was amazed at the students who used to be weeks behind, but then in an act of desperation do all their homework in a weekend and turn it in just before the grading cutoff.
As a coach, I get the opportunity to speak to students and get an inside story. Check out this telling excerpt from a recent coaching session:
Me: “How did it go this weekend”
Sam: “It was so hard. I really didn’t want to do all that work, but my mom was so mad at me, and I knew that I had to do it.”
Me: “When did you get started?”
Sam: “I knew you were going to ask me that. I had until Monday morning to finish all my work. I started Sunday morning and stayed up until 3am to get it all done.”
Me: “Why didn’t you start on Saturday?”
Sam: “Because I knew I could do it in a day, and I didn’t want to start until I absolutely needed to.”
Three things strike me:
- That weeks of student work can be accomplished in one day.
- How stubborn people can be about not working until they must.
- The power of working in desperation.
Is this pace of work sustainable? No. Probably not.
But it’s possible. And as long as it’s possible, and students don’t have a compelling reason to work otherwise, working in desperation is a part of the process.
In working out a solution to avoid this kind of work – and the student did change her habits over the course of the next nine week grading period – we managed to keep “hyper-productive mode” intact.
We just changed the parameters for when she slipped into it, which happened to be the real work.