Deadlines

Mr Mark Richards | Director of Teaching, Learning and Innovation

“If we didn’t have deadlines we would stagnate.” – Walt Disney

In our family we have a regular new year’s mantra: ‘This year is going to be the year of no drama’.  Inevitably this promise fades into the ether of real life, a running joke about the illusion that we have control of fate.  This year has been tougher than most.  My 2-year-old son contracted RSV, a serious respiratory infection, a couple of months ago and had to be airlifted to Toowoomba by the RACQ Life Flight Team https://www.lifeflight.org.au/.  This was a very traumatic period and something I would not wish on anyone.  However, it has made me reflect on some of the real-life consequences and manifestations of some of the soft skills we teach our students.  Watching the helicopter rise above Warwick made me think about the real reason we teach; to provide children with the skills and knowledge to grow into people who have the drive and tenacity to become excellent, who can make the world a better place and a more spirited and respectful community.

One of these vital soft skills is the ability to meet deadlines.  To plan and accomplish your goals within time limits.  Afterall a goal is just a dream with a deadline.  In in a real-life situation, such as a patient airlift, you cannot miss deadlines. Get the paperwork in too late – the transport might not happen.  You have not fuelled the helicopter on time –  it does not take off.  The analysis of the blood data is too slow – a patient may not get the right medications.  The I.T. system has not been fixed – the doctor is not able to video conference with the helicopter crew.  Deadlines are not just there to annoy and inconvenience, they serve a purpose to enable students to flourish within a learning environment.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a charity that assesses all international peer reviewed evidence on teaching 5–16-year-olds.  It collates this evidence and provides insights into implementing teaching and learning strategies.  The EEF places feedback as the highest impact strategy that teachers can employ, with an estimated impact of 8 months.  In other words, a student who received targeted, constructive feedback on how to improve their learning will be 8 months ahead of a comparable student who does not receive adequate feedback.  Consequently, the drafting process is extremely important. It is why teachers spend time chasing students to meet draft deadlines, so we can provide as much support and feedback as we can.  Failure to meet these deadlines directly harms a student’s ability to grow, improve and prosper.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

– Bill Gates

Learning to meet deadlines is an exceptionally important life skill, and therefore we take them seriously at the College.  Nevertheless, this is not an easy task.  Even adults need help to defeat the lurking procrastination, so here are a few tips on how to make meeting deadlines easier:

  1. Make a commitment. A goal or aim makes everything easier, commit yourself to handing in your drafts a day early.
  1. Plan the timeline early. Break them down and set mini goals. Completing assignments in small, easy to digest, chunks will make a large task seem achievable.
  1. Take initiative early. Be open to ask for help and accept help.

Teachers and staff are there to help, ask them.  Take their advice on board but do not be scared to ask more than one person.  Different perspectives will help you understand more and may bring a different viewpoint to your work.

Deadlines are not just there to make life difficult; they are there to ensure the world keeps going and people keep growing and learning.  Treasure them, respect them and make sure you meet them.

“I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams