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I’m a planner. I plot out how I will accomplish both small and large tasks, and I rarely leave things until the last minute. Over the years I have had to adjust my expectations. I used to tackle jobs with the intent of finishing them the same day I started. I no longer hold that expectation. I rarely have enough time to finish any job during the same day I began it. That would be a luxury.

So how do I reconcile reality with my preferences? How do I adapt? It’s not easy by any means. It’s hard to work against our preferences, many of which are firmly established and reinforced through experience. In work and in schools, many of the demands are placed by external forces and expectations. Most of us manage to meet the expectations because we want to do what is expected. Others struggle to meet them.

Schools, at their best, allow children to discover what they need to succeed. Are they planners or procrastinators? Do they dive in and get things done, or do they take the “wait and see” approach? Is a student more apt to work more productively alone or with a group? Where does their energy come from? All of these are things to be discovered and learned as children move through life and school. Our job, as educators, is to allow them to experiment, succeed, fail, and learn from their successes and failures. Telling them what to do and what works for us is of little help. Learning occurs best when it draws on experience.

Most of us wish we knew as much about ourselves as children as we do today. Not only do our schools exist to help children learn content – they also help them learn what they need to succeed and when they are their most productive. The best schools encourage children to be their best, learning along the way what that means for each of them.