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Monday, April 20, 2009

How are you keeping first things first?

Is keeping first things first important as you come down this last stretch toward to AP exam? And if it is, how are you at making sure you tackle those 3 suggested review problems every night?

I’m hoping that in my sharing one of my experiences, you can find some bit to help guarantee your success on your test day! In early 2003, I too faced an important test date and I too appreciated the opportunity and felt I had to find a way to achieve. Achieving this goal was too important to me and my test if I passed would lead to a national teacher certification (only 40% of test takers passed). I was really trying to be superwoman—just as I imagine many of you work at being superteens. I thought I was prioritizing but ooohh---a to-do list with 20 items all the time!!! Urgent “stuff” kept happening and I was always responding to that. Does that sound familiar?

I was overwhelmed!!!! I sat down and broke my test review into manageable chunks (I had 2 months until the test) and put them into my planner. I did that first because the goal to pass the test was so important. And I planned to turn off instant message, not answer the phone, or have the TV on during the review sessions. I had tried before but was always interrupted by the phone or my students on instant message with questions about our studies.

Then I looked at my other “stuff”, and categorized it: vital, important, or nice. Then I took the vital “stuff” and categorized them again: vital, important, or nice. And I let go the nice. So my house wasn’t very clean during the process, and we didn’t have gourmet dinners. But the laundry was done and we had quickie suppers. My students’ work was graded but I didn’t plan any big field trips or projects during that time. I set aside a time every second night to evaluate their work. As I look back now, I prioritized, and then prioritized again. I did a mental daily check of my goals and made every effort not to be dragged down by urgent if it didn’t help me achieve my goal. Of course, I had to be flexible at times. I couldn’t always follow the plan exactly. But since I knew where I was going and I had planned for time to get there, my review was accomplished by “the day”.

I truly believe, that with good preparation and putting first things first, you'll too feel that great rush of a job well done, and a goal achieved when you learn your scores. I share these experiences, knowing that you are planning and reviewing, but wondering is there one little piece here you could use to help you on your way? Or can you point all of us to some tips that are really helping you manage to put first things first?

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