M2: My Name is Susan, and I’m a Procrastinator

This blog assignment has itself been a learning experience in time management. On Sunday and Monday I did the course readings, and I decided to give myself a day for the material to simmer, so I could see what really stood out when I thought back to the topic. Now it’s Thursday, and I think I left the pot on the stove just a little too long. It’s not that I don’t have concrete thoughts about the topic or readings, it’s that I have had to face the reality that my basic state is procrastination, and that putting things off is really easy with an online class, even when clear, detailed assignments and deadlines are given. When I think to my class next summer – a course on Intercultural Communication for students doing internships abroad – I have to keep in mind that there will be many, many distractions for my students (a new home and a new job, in a new city in a new country) and that procrastination will be rampant. The readings have thankfully presented strong suggestions, and the themes of good communication and detailed instructions stand out to me more and more. (Of course, as a linguist, I’m always happy to bring everything back to communication.) Looking at online courses from the perspective of a student, including all of my procrastination and whining about not wanting to do homework, has been a true reality check and has helped me reflect on my own teaching philosophy and strategies.

I’m quite glad that this will be the first time teaching this course, because I am able to envision it from the onset as an online course. I will not be battling with myself on how to rethink something that I have already set in stone in a different setting. Normally, I like to keep my classes flexible, and I often go into seminars armed with only the readings and minimal notes. I never use powerpoint. I enjoy teaching most when students and I can construct each class session together. That said, I now recognize that while I can still plan for flexibility, I must have more concrete goals, rubrics, and set lectures for an online course. I have to rethink what pedagogical flexibility means as well as how students and instructors can co-create a course in different ways. Overall, through my hiccups as a student and my procrastination on this assignment, I now better understand the readings’ recommendations regarding time management and course development.

5 thoughts on “M2: My Name is Susan, and I’m a Procrastinator

  1. I felt the same way about how easy it was to procrastinate being a student in this course (which made me have a bit more sympathy for those who procrastinated while taking my classes). What could be done to help our students stay on schedule besides clear deadlines, detailed instruction — and severe punishment if they turn in their work late (don’t let me give you ideas for this last one, Leah)? I wondered if it might be productive, after the first week, to have students share time-management techniques they use, and to remind them that taking an online class does not mean spending less time working. Another thought is to break up assignments into small daily bits so that there is something due everyday — bad idea?

    1. The small-daily-bits strategy is my fallback. I assure you, it doesn’t defeat the mighty force of procrastination, and it leaves you with a LOT of keeping track to do (I have, against my own principles, envied instructors who just give two exams a term and require nothing else, even though I actually think this an indefensible practice)–still, it seems adaptable to online construction. To think about–

      I was going to say more about procrastination, but, you know, I got busy, and . . .

  2. Hi Susan,
    I appreciate your honesty, as well! Yes, it is easy to procrastinate. That is why I attempt to have you ANTICIPATE – and I give updates throughout using announcements and our live session time together.

    Yu – I like your ideas, breaking activities into smaller pieces.
    I am not much for severe punishment so no worries there! I did have an instructor who would not give credit for any late assignments. If it was turned in, though, at the end of the course, she might consider that towards the final grade in some way.

    We should definitely get you in touch with Judy, Simona and Angela to see how they have designed their ITAL courses…Hong and Christine, too!

    Keep up the inspiring conversations!

  3. I am a procrastinator as well, Susan and I relate to how an online learning environment can really exacerbate this tendency. Since we only have one synchronous session a week (obviously, we will have more when we are teaching our own classes), it is easy to put off work until the deadline. However, there is also a certain sense of freedom in knowing that the materials we need to do our work are always there when we need them. We don’t need to wait for Leah to tell us to do something in person in order to do it. She has placed all of the necessary prompts and assignments on the various sites for us to use when we need them. As I have discussed in my own post, I think that the best thing that we can for ourselves and our students when designing our own classes is to have all of the pieces and deadlines in place before the class begins to prevent everyone from falling into the procrastination trap.

  4. Ever since I came to live in the US 36 years ago, I was tagged as a procrastinator; it’s in the Latino blood, I was even told once. Funny thing is that having been raised by fascist nuns in Spain, procrastinating is not a trait that has ever characterized me. Compulsively preemptive, foreseeing scenarios, anticipating disasters, even right on time, perhaps, but never procrastinating. Ten years went by and I was still tagged as that, and here I am, balancing my own gusto to procrastinate (I am almost irreparably behind in the readings) and my drive to keep things five step ahead of deadlines. Reading about your procrastinating, Susan, I was reassured I am not in bad company at all. Thanks.

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