That phrase has stuck with me. It's now my No. 1 classroom rule. When teaching procedures last week, I couldn't emphasize enough to my students the importance of this rule. This is the ultimate rule to get my kids understanding my desire to maximize instructional time and cut out the nonsense.
Whether entering the classroom, taking materials out from their book bag, grabbing a sharpened pencil, going to the bathroom, or leaving at the end of class, I expect my students to always move with a sense of urgency.
In my classroom, I first model (with extreme exaggeration) what it looks like to NOT move with a sense of urgency. I model "lollygagging", talking to friends on their way out of the room, moving too slowly, trying to show off, sitting in their chair with a broken pencil for an extended period of time (as opposed to quickly remedying the situation), daydreaming, running down the hall, etc. Then, I let several student volunteers model what it looks like to NOT move with a sense of urgency. This is always fun to watch as students begin to see how silly and meaningless some of their own pointless movements can be.
Then, my students model what it looks like to move with purpose. What it looks like to grab a pencil and go directly to their seats. What it looks like to quickly pack up their backpacks. What it looks like to walk down the hall with a sense of urgency. Not everyone gets it at first. I am hopeful that the rest will catch on. Why? Because...Urgency allows for progress and discourages lengthy transitions and wasted time. Urgency fosters an environment in which students are more aware, more alert, and more focused. Urgency keeps students enlivened and engaged.
John Kotter, professor at the Harvard Business School, says that "a true sense of urgency is rare...It has to be created and recreated." For this reason, I model a sense of urgency in my teaching. I am constantly moving. I stand on chairs and desks. I climb on counters. I got rid of my wooden stool this year. I rarely used it last year; I didn't want to be tempted by it this year. I plan effectively in order to transition quickly. I walk swiftly throughout the building. I attempt to grade assignments in a timely fashion. This modeling, along with consistently enforcing and reinforcing the rule with students, attempts to create and recreate a true sense of urgency.
Though bought out a few years ago by Martin's, Ukrop's still owns their bakery. A recent ad for hire at the bakery said this:
Candidates must be self starting, motivated team players, detail oriented, willing to work with a sense of urgency in completing multiple tasks and ability to work a flexible schedule.
They still want workers that move with a sense of urgency. So do I.