Student Deadline Disconnect

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This semester, I've been assigning students in my tech course different types of technology tasks as homework. Some they have found success with, some not so much. How do I know? By the homework that comes in on time...or not. This is typical of a lot of classes, but I realized that there is a disconnect between what happens in a classroom and what we want to happen in real life.

In real life, what a project manager wants is to know ahead of a deadline if a potential problem has occurred. They generally don't want to get to the deadline and find...nothing. That's considered poor project management.

It's also considered bad teaching by many to have a lot of students fail to submit an assignment due to unforseen technical issues. Yet, this is is typical of what happens in a lot of cases. Although longer assignments (e.g. video assignments, team projects) might have timelines built in, the result is often student who miss intermediate deadlines.

Again...why don't students tell us ahead of time they might be having problems? It's partly procrastination on student's part, but I also think there is a culture of distrust between students and teachers. That is, we expect students to flake out, and they tend to do that.

I told my students that in the "real world" of employment, the responsible thing would be to tell colleagues/bosses if a problem was found. So I said again to tell me when things go wrong. But I also tried NOT to scold them, because as a wise friend of my mother once said, "If you yell at them, they won't tell you anything again."

Which gets me to an article Stevie Rocco found about toxic management beliefs. I don't buy all of them, but I do think the one that's relevant is treating employees and adult students like, well school children.It's good to provide leadership, but also true that when adults are treated like children, it can set up dysfunctional parent-teenager relationships at work.

There's a lot of discussion about helping students take ownership of their learning and employees self organizing, but the traditional school/management climate really does its best to undermine it. I don't have any ready answers for either situation, but this experience has given me food for thought on what I need to do to change my management climate.

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