Roxanna EldenWe know that for our students, good intentions are only worth so much. The difference between success and failure more often lies in how kids manage daily responsibilities as they work toward larger goals.

The same is true for teachers. In fact, many of the work-habit tips we constantly repeat in the classroom apply to us, too. Here are a few notes we can take for ourselves next time we lecture students about study habits.

Organize your materials.

When students don’t have specific places to store notes and homework, they shovel these papers into the dark caverns of their backpacks, never to see them again. This drives us crazy. However, we let the inboxes on our own desks fill up with papers that should go elsewhere. The “Piles and Files” chapter of my book, See Me After Class, details the three filing systems teachers should set up, but here’s a quick reference: Have a place to put student work you plan to grade (and a separate place for work you don’t plan to grade). Set up folders for papers you don’t need daily, but need to keep track of throughout the year. Finally, start an “ideas for later” box for potentially great ideas that you don’t have time to look at until summer vacation.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

We get mad at students who wait until the night — or lunch period — before a due date to start major assignments. Teachers, too, need to set up routines for things that are important, but not yet urgent.

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