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Plan B

Posted on: February 18th, 2019 by Amy Kines No Comments

“YES! I’m going to DO that!” How often have we thought that or authentically planned to implement something we learned?  With the best of intentions, sometimes we leave a course, or workshop, or training filled with excitement and a commitment to make a change in our practice.  And then…. life hits us.  We are bombarded with reality.  Kids, family obligations, meetings, papers to grade, LIFE!  I get that.  So, we need a Plan B.

Plan B is simply about having a plan for when we don’t do what we planned to do. 🙂 For example, let’s say one intends to implement processing time every 8 – 10 minutes or so during instruction. That’s the plan, and it’s an important one. However, if the past is any indication, when things get rushed, we know what happens – one tends to just keep talking / lecturing and push through so that the content can get ‘covered,’ and processing time gets left out. So, we need a Plan B. Here’s something to try*:

Cue – Set up a cue to let you know it’s time for Plan B. In our example, let’s use that feeling of pressure to rush through the content and not take the time to process information.  Feeling the pressure is our cue to do something instead of pushing through and continuing to lecture.

Behavior – Have a plan for what you will do. In this example, what can we do when we recognize the feeling of pressure to rush through the content? Begin proactive, I might create an index card with 5 simple ways to have students process information quickly (turn-and-talk; draw and label; write a good question; hand up, stand up, pair up and quick conversation; journal entry). When I feel pressure to rush through, my Plan B behavior will be to look at the index card and select one of the processing options and have students process the content for 1-2 minutes.

Reward – Reward yourself for recognizing the potential to get off course, having a Plan B, and making it happen! It can be as simple as patting yourself on the back, or keeping a tally of how many times you do this within the period (a 42 minute period should have students stop and process content at least 3 times). You can also have students air high five you for allowing them to process what they are learning. Rewarding the habit makes it so much more likely that you’ll repeat the process again next time.

So, where would a Plan B be helpful for you? Comment below or reach out at

*Lally, Phillippa and Benjamin Gardner. (2013) “Promoting habit formation.” Health Psychology Review 7,137-156.

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