A Glimpse into the Habit, “Manage Yourself”

I often find myself overwhelmed with tasks, deadlines, and complex projects. Managing myself, let alone my family, my work, and my team priorities, is a never-ending challenge. It requires clear goals, careful planning, constant reflection, and ongoing adjustment of my expectations, work, and priorities. I’m guessing I’m not alone here. This is hard stuff. Each of us, and the students we support, have to work to set and reach new goals. The sooner we start to develop these skills, the better off we are, which gets me to my point of why “Manage Yourself” is one of the Quest Forward Essential habits!

An important aspect of managing yourself has to do with goals – setting them, developing a plan, taking action, changing behaviors, and evaluating progress. This habit, like all others, is developed through practice. Students need tools, strategies, and feedback to help them develop and maintain this habit.

Why is “Manage Yourself” so important? Students working in an independent, flexible, self-paced environment need to know how to manage themselves! This habit stems from research on self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control your own thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, and to modify them as you learn and adapt to new situations. Self-regulated learners are proactive in their learning. They are self-directed and take initiative. They set goals and self-monitor, are resourceful, think strategically, and are confident in their abilities.

The ability to manage yourself is also correlated with motivation and achievement. Students have increased motivation when they set personal academic goals, take actions to meet those goals, and regularly reflect on their progress towards those goals. Decades of work in this field shows a relationship between self-regulation, learning strategies, and academic achievement.

Because managing yourself is complex and challenging, it’s essential that we scaffold the development of this habit across students’ time in high school. Here are some examples of what it means to “Manage Yourself” in Quest Forward Learning:

In 9th grade, students 1) determine whether they’ve met a goal or not and 2) keep a calendar with important dates and deadlines, some of which they’ve identified themselves.

In 10th grade, students build on their skills and learn to 1) determine which tasks they should complete to reach their goals and 2) to reflect on their progress and processes.

In 11th grade, students 1) create hierarchical goals with subgoals over longer periods of time and 2) reflect on the specific strategies used to help them reach goals.

In 12th grade, students 1) create multi-step project plans for course projects or independent projects and 2) work independently (individually or with peers) most of the time.

Helping students to develop these skills and habits takes time and is a life-long practice. We’ll gradually be introducing new features to help students develop all of the Quest Forward Essential Habits (Learn more about the Essential Habits here), including “Manage Yourself.” In fall 2018, students will begin basic planning and goal setting focused on improving skills and habits and completing quests.

1 Cleary, T. J., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2004). Self-regulation empowerment program: A school-based program to enhance self-regulation and self-motivated cycles of student learning. Psychology in the Schools, 41(5), 537–550. 2 Burnette J. L., O’Boyle, E. H., VanEpps, E. M., Pollack, J. M., & Finkel, E. J. (2013). Mind-sets matter: A meta-analytic review of implicit theories and self-regulation. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 655-701. 3 Duckworth, A. (n.d.). OECD report of skills for social progress: The power of social emotional skills. Retrieved from http://ngla.me/educe62a59 4 Panadero, E. (2017). A review of self-regulated learning: Six models and four directions for research. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(422).

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