Is a Return to School Safe? Self-Management for Students

a student taking notes for a class while working on her laptop

As we continue to focus on building positive and safe learning environments during this challenging time, we can apply various strategies to help students with self-management skills. When students and families are engaged in self-management, they are better equipped to manage the stress and emotions of varied learning environments.

Goal Setting

When you take the time to have students set personal and academic goals at the beginning of each school year or academic semester, you provide an occasion for students to focus on and consider their future in a positive light. After students have created their goals, you can hold regular check-ins with them to celebrate their progress and establish next steps toward these goals.

It is also important to consider how to strengthen collaborative efforts with students’ families and to continue discussing students’ goals. For instance, once a benchmark or other summative assessment has been scored, you can hold a conference with each student to reflect on their performance and set an academic goal for them to achieve before the next summative assessment. You can further encourage students to track their own data using a bar graph depicting their progress, providing a visual aid and source of encouragement.

Time Management

You can guide students in managing their time by determining how to organize their time and setting realistic timeframes for actionable steps toward their goals. For instance, if a student has the goal of reading three short novels in a semester, you can help them establish smaller goals that make progress toward the larger goal. You can then check in with them and discuss how many chapters they have read per week. Setting smaller goals will help them determine how to adjust their pacing to meet the larger goal, reflect on actions to take and obtain the materials they need.

Practice Patience

Having patience is an important skill because it allows you to remain calm when faced with difficult or stressful situations, which is especially helpful when working through the many assignments you must complete as a student. If you get frustrated easily by your work or by events happening in your life, learning to have patience can prevent you from making impulsive decisions. It can also keep you from feeling tired and stressed or being tempted to give up easily. There are many ways to practice having more patience. These include the following:

  • Being an active listener
  • Planning and organizing daily tasks
  • Meditating in a calm environment
  • Spreading out social activities
  • Spending time on things that are more important
  • Actively waiting on things to practice

Stay Organized

Keeping your work and social life organized is a great way to help you improve your self-management skills. Having a more organized schedule will help you be less stressed, be more productive and work more diligently toward your goals. You will also spend less time on things that cause problems in your life and work on things that matter more. Ways to stay organized include the following:

  • Do not procrastinate on important tasks
  • Write things down in a daily planner
  • Schedule daily task
  • Do not multitask
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help
  • Keep your work area clean

Evaluate Your Own Progress

Learning how to evaluate your own progress and congratulate yourself for your accomplishments is a great way to manage your priorities. This way, you can determine which strategies work for you and which do not. This method could help you to prioritize not only your tasks but also your time. Here are ways to help you evaluate progress you make on your work:

  • Understand the impact of your work
  • Use the results of your progress to improve your work
  • Communicate your results
  • Stop using strategies that do not work
  • Make reasonable goals


The role of self-efficacy is to guide students to be learner-centered and learner-driven. As a teacher, you can guide students and provide them with self-management strategies that will ultimately lead them to be independently motivated learners. For example, you can embed regular reflection, journaling and peer-conferencing as well as apply other self-regulation tools to support students in building their self-confidence and self-sufficiency in their continuous learning experiences. When you equip students with a variety of self-management strategies, you teach them to embrace challenges. As a result, they will be more likely to take risks and build on their efforts to reach their established goals.

Applying these self-management strategies in your school community will help to establish a sense of safety that contributes to student and family resilience during challenging times. Your role as a teacher is vital, not only teaching these self-management strategies but also in supporting students by regularly monitoring their progress toward their goals.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.