We’re in Week 12 at my school and so in my Mastery classes I put something up on the board today, and then I ask something. Here’s what I write, in large, clear, moment-of-truth letters:
8 MORE CLASSES
I mean, I could have written “ONE MORE MONTH”, but this is at the point in the semester where the former implies a degree of urgency that the latter just doesn’t bring to light. The next class we have together I’ll write 7 MORE DAYS, and so on. It seems to help keep students focused a little bit better.
One of the benefits of Mastery is that students often take more of a sense of ownership of their own learning – as opposed to talking about how their teacher is good or bad, they talk about how they need to do more work to catch up. That sounds subtle but it’s, in my opinion, a crucial step for academic development and deeply beneficial in the long run.
Then I say, “What if I got sick?”
I have a chronic illness called Crohn’s Disease that, pretty much every semester, makes me miss a class or two – sometimes a lot more. If I were out for a week, which is possible for any teacher, would that be outside of the tightening window students have to finish class? This is, of course, notwithstanding if the student got sick on top of things – which, when put under stress, seems like it happens more often.
It doesn’t work for everyone, and the power definitely wears off. But reminding students who are self-accelerating that time is measured in class days, and that not all their success can be about pushing themselves harder at this point, can be very helpful.