“Building” a Sense of Urgency


According to my old red Webster’s dictionary copyrighted 1972, the definition of urgency is the condition of being urgent; need for quick action, a strond demand.  This word has traveled along with me all week in so many ways; my son anxiously awaiting his lego set(bought with his own saved birthday money); students in my classes drafting their opinion essays during writing workshop; a Winter Storm Warning with approaching ice/snow for the area.   All of these events centered around the word…urgency.  I even used it several times and discussed it with my fourth grade classes.  We wrote the definition on the board and they all agreed that there was a need for quick action in workshop time.  They even made their committment on what they were working on that day as we did status of the class.  I looked out into the classroom as I moved from one desk to the next with quick feedback conferences.  I started to feel the stress and the frustration.  I thought to myself, “some still don’t see the urgency in writing, what do I do?”

Break down the word, what do you have?  I answered aloud as I drove home worn out, “urge.”  It was late Thursday night, the kids had been wired (maybe the approaching ice storm);  I was exhausted, and my head was pounding.  “Urge,”  I muttered to myself.  Well, the dictionary came down off the shelf and I read aloud, “Urge as a verb means to plead with or encourage strongly to do something and as a noun-a sudden feeling that makes one want to do something. ”  As I read ahead silently to myself, the example given- believe it or not was the urge to become a  writer.

As a I sat on the couch after a long day, the weather forecaster reported on the amount of ice coming towards us -100% chance! He was pleading for people to get ready and stay home when it gets here.  That was urgency.  I wanted to take heed of his advice, 100% chance is pretty for sure and we do need milk and toilet paper.  I made plans to go shopping the next night.  I listened.  Why didn’t some of the kids get the urgency in their drafting.  “Mmmmm, ”  I pondered as I my mind shifted from school thoughts to my family time.  My son bustled in the room, “Mom, can I have your phone?  I have to track the Lego order with FED EX!!!”  he exclaimed.  Wow, this sounded urgent, I thought to myself.  Well, he had ordered it over a week ago and he was spending his own birthday money.  The box was getting closer day by day.  I knew he was feeling anxious because this was extremely important to him,  it was one of the LEGO Movie sets not found in any of our local stores.  My mind raced back to school and the lack of urgency there.  Maybe I had to encourage more, build that sense of urgency. 

“Begin with the end in mind”, I reminded them on that next day.  I gave them each a calendar mapping out how we can finish our essays.  You may always work ahead, but I needed to strongly encourage those reluctant writers to draft one sentence at a time.  It was overwhelming them to see a paragraph at a time.  It was just like my son, he tracked that Lego Set daily from Alabama to Missouri.  It made the journey easier.  Thank you to my son for helping me understand urgency in a different light and how we need to make the steps smaller for some to get to the end result.  Happy building to my son as the ice comes and happy building to me as I build up the sense of urgency in our fourth grade writing workshop on Monday again. (well, if we don’t have a snow/ice day!) 


5 responses »

  1. I know what you mean about some students not “getting” that sense of urgency – but this is where we can help the most by modeling, be patient, and being consistent. The will get there…eventually. PS. We have a storm approaching, too. Ugh!

  2. You are on the right track developing the concept of urgency. Your son is a great example. Have the students think of a time when it was urgent they needed to do something.
    So glad you are slicing Laura. 🙂

  3. Love the connections here, Laura. We all need passion and purpose to find a sense of urgency, don’t we? Easy to see with the legos, a little tougher for 4th graders to see with their opinion writing, but certainly possible. Welcome to the slicing month!

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