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Is success because of grit, luck, preparation, support, or all of the above?

All of the above I believe, and in all areas of life.  Without the above, I’d still be sitting home or in the Grand Rapids airport, wondering what next.  Instead, I made it to my flight on time for a conference presentation–despite Murphy’s Law appearing this morning (as it often does for our students).  In fact, choices I made related to my successful trip seem remarkably similar to advice we give our students.  Not surprisingly, decades after I learned these lessons in college myself, the advice still works as long as everyone does their part.  Following are lessons that still stick with me for my own life as well as in my role as teacher/designer.  

  1. Chance favors the prepared mind

Reading through American Airline’s (AA) trip web advice, I figured out I’d need to leave by 4am.  As I am NOT that early a morning person, I proactively loaded my luggage into my car and set out travel clothes.  I thought about some “what ifs,” and tossed in a soda and bagel in case I didn’t have time for breakfast.  Seeing 4:37 as I awoke (having slept through two alarms) I was out the door in 5 minutes.  Seriously–with 110 miles to go for a 6:45am flight.  

How do we help students prepare for assignment & test deadlines?

2.  Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today

Chariots of Fire Movie posterLast night I considered waiting until the airport to check in for my flight, but chose to get it done using AA’s online check-in system to save time in the morning.  They did their part with online directions being easy to follow, including a plan for any technology I chose.  When I got there physically, there were also clear signs showing me where to go.  Running through the parking garage, security gate, and breathlessly holding my phone above the scanner with 30 seconds to spare before the plane doors locked me out, the wayfinding and ease of use was highly appreciated when stressed!  

What wayfinding do we provide for stressed students completing high-stakes assignments?

  1.   Just do it.  (Cult of Done)

Cult of DoneMy mental math and Google Maps said I’d never make it, & I thought about not trying (like many of our students).  But, I knew that I had signed up for text notifications and could call for advice as soon as I was on the road.  I did, hoping that that I’d get a person at 5am who could tell me how to salvage my efforts.  Fortunately, AA had done their own “what if” scenarios and created multiple options.  If I needed a lot more time, I could pay penalty fees and other costs but guarantee a later flight to make my trip.  Or, if I thought I only needed a little more time, I could fly standby on the next flight with no extra charges other than my own inconvenience.  Feeling good that no matter what time I got to the airport, I could make my overall trip I was able to concentrate on just driving safely.  Otherwise, I would have either quit or rushed heedlessly through trying just to get there.  Turned out, I parked, looked at the time, and ran for it–going faster and faster as I got closer and closer, and…I MADE IT!

How do we provide options so our students feel confident that they can succeed in our course, even when Murphy’s Law throws them some curves?

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