Breaking Bad Habits

Heads up! This is a bit of rant session.

As proud as I’ve been of our second year group of PBLers, I’ve come to find recently that I’m struggling to maintain my goodhearted nature around them. Now that a year has gone by and I’ve learned so much, starting up the ninth graders for their first PBL experience has been a grand success, but it has also brought to my attention just how many bad habits my tenth grade group has.

I’m in the midst of trying to break those bad habits. I don’t mind chaos in a classroom to a degree. I feel like there is a good energy to feed off of when students are being themselves and exploring new content; however, the truth is that within some of the chaos has come bad habits that I know will be hard to rectify with my veteran group. Allow me to put a disclaimer here that the majority of the students are doing great work and have great work habits, but we all know it only takes a few to worry us.

The number one habit that I’m trying to change for this semester is on completing various assignments ON TIME. We developed a poor habit last year of allowing some slack as both us and the students were figuring out from project to project how to complete assignments in a manner that always made sense. Due to this original design, it has become common practice for some students to not meet initial deadlines and to wait as long as possible before completing the work. This, of course, has to stop. The problem is I recognize that it is the culture that I allowed. I pride myself on my classroom management, but admittedly this will be a challenge for me this year. We have the new PBL group streamlined and firing on all cylinders, but as I said before, this only reveals the issues we have with our veteran group.

The solution seems simple. Hold students to a stringent deadline, check the work, and follow through with the appropriate grade. Still, I wonder what else can be done to break these bad habits and turn it into a real positive for the students. I’m certainly up to suggestions.

We are approaching the due date for the next round projects from both groups and it is clear that one group is more organized and on time than the other. Yet, I also know the latter group will produce some phenomenal results.

At the end of the day, the veteran group will get it done, and most will have done a great job. But I am always of the mindset that those who are a little lost need to be helped and taught how to break those bad habits. As stressful as this time of year can be at school, I am excited for the coming results of these projects from both groups. I just hope academically I can start working towards flipping those bad habits and trading them in for something a bit more streamlined. Then again, students aren’t streamlined.

It’s honestly what makes my job so interesting and worthwhile.

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