Best Laid Plans


I don't know why this week's prompt about planning made me think of the enneagram...but it did.  If you aren't familiar with the enneagram, it is to 2020 what Meyers Briggs was to...I don't know...2010?  It's a personality test.  And if you feel like taking it, you can do so here.

When I taught leadership, I used personality tests all the time, because whether or not they are "accurate," they promote self-reflection and insight, so they are really valuable for students because they are still learning about how they best function in the world of higher education- are they procrastinators?  Do they take a lot of time to complete projects?  How do they balance their priorities?

It took me a long time as a teacher to figure out how I function best.  As a student, I was super prone to procrastination of big projects, and I like to finish things quickly.  I would wait until the last possible moment and then write a 20 page paper in a day.  I am always the first one finished with a test.  When I started teaching, I was similar: let the pile of essays sit and then exhaust myself to get them done by the next class period.  Prep the lesson right before going to class, or worse don't prep a lesson and just see how it goes.

A few years after I started teaching at YC, and when I book blogging regularly (on this blog if you want to scroll back a bunch) a lot of the bloggers that I followed were reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.   Although it's not my typical type of read, I was really struggling to get things done so I read it.  I barely remember anything from the book, except for this piece of advice: If there is something on your to-do list that will take less than three minutes, do it right away.  That tiny piece of advice changed the way that I dealt with my email inbox and a lot of other things.  I started doing things fast, and right away.

Then, as I started teaching online, I started to want to plan further and further ahead, and that translated to my face-to-face lessons.  I was jealous of my colleagues who had semester long lesson plans and whose Canvas shells were finished through the very last week.  And I took the steps to become that kind of teacher.  I almost always plan ahead.  I spend a huge amount of time prepping (especially online) prior to the start of the semester, and it makes my enneagram four heart happy to have the structure of having my tasks finished.

So, what am I teaching next week?  We are starting a novel unit in Introduction to Literature, in ENG 102 we are starting to read short fiction and long form essays, and in ENG 100 we are working on interacting with the ideas in a piece of journalistic writing.  All of these weeks have been planned since the beginning of the semester.  And that gives me the freedom to focus on communication, interaction with my students, and...grading that pile of essays I've been procrastinating.  I still haven't solved that one.


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