Middle school students often resist using a planner or an agenda. Think about it from their point of view: they have to stop what they’re doing, pull it out of their backpack, find the right page, have a pen or pencil in hand, and write stuff (hopefully, legibly) into a small space. All that, when they don’t even think they need a planner, because they’re convinced they can remember everything!
As a teacher, I try to get kids to think of their planner as a radar screen. Assignments, appointments, tests, projects, quizzes and sports practices are missiles, rockets and aircraft that have entered their airspace. Their planner is like a a radar screen that lets them track and manage it all – before disaster strikes! I also teach them that, by the time they reach middle school, their time management responsibilities are much greater than they realize! There are actually three schedules they need to track in their planners:
1. The Annual Calendar
Their school’s Annual Calendar contains important school-wide dates and events, such as exam weeks, holidays, bell schedule changes, games, rallies, special celebrations, etc. Students should know where they can find the Annual Calendar (it’s usually on the school website) and periodically review the activities and events. Some will impact them (e.g. Picture Day) and some won’t (e.g. PTA meeting). Record dates and events that affect them in their planners.
2. Class Schedules or Calendar
A Class Schedule or Calendar contains assignments, due dates and events for a single class, such as science or math. It shows homework assignments, project due dates, field trips, quizzes, etc. This calendar may be distributed in class as a handout, or maintained on a teacher’s web page. Information from the Class Schedule or Calendar should be copied into their planner, one to two weeks at a time and updated daily. If there is no homework for a class on a given night, students should make a habit of writing “N/H”for “No Homework” in the correct planner date. Because a student will have six or more class schedules, there’s a lot to keep track of.
3. Personal Schedules
By the time a student reaches middle school, he or she should assume some responsibility their personal schedule. Events and appointments,such as doctor’s, dentist and orthodontist’s appointments, club or tutoring meetings, sports practices, games, special occasions, vacations, religious holidays and birthdays make up a student’s personal schedule. Knowing their personal schedule helps students manage their time. Also, a student’s personal schedule often impacts another person’s schedule. Parents need to know about changes in practice times, or a carpool driver needs to know when a student will be absent from carpool due to an appointment,etc. Teachers need to know if a student will be absent from class for an appointment.
Copying so much information (annual, class and personal schedules) into a planner is tedious. But, by tracking all three schedules in their planners, students can get the “big picture” or the “radar view” of their responsibilities. That is the key to successfully managing their time!