/  By  / 

First, it was grit. Now, it’s urgency.

 A few months ago, I read a New York Times article about character education and got excited about teaching my students about the importance of grit.

I think my students have gotten the point — that failure is OK as long as you work hard and never give up.

Today in class, I introduced a new word: urgency.

We don’t have time to waste. The first semester is almost over, the AP test is in May, and pretty soon, my students are out of here and on to college.

There is significant work to do.

Teaching urgency, however, is not easy. First, it must be unanxious. If I’m running around, stressing out all the time, telling my students that things need to be done now-now-now, and giving them the impression they’re horrible, that would be sending the wrong message. After all, part of learning is struggle; the other part is joy.

At the same time, teaching urgency means demanding hard work all the time, every single day. This is the hard part for me. My students already think they’re working hard. Some say they’re working harder than ever before. The problem is, they need to work even harder. I need to be a better and more consistent cheerleader.

I also need to find out a way to accelerate learning. My students and I are putting in a lot of time (maybe not enough?), but the improvements haven’t stuck yet. While it may be hard to see growth from one day to the next, it’s also clear that more growth is necessary — and quickly.

How do you teach urgency? Do you have ideas for me? 

Please share your brilliant insights!