Academic Urgency

Learners use their time and energy strategically and employ self-regulation strategies (e.g., breaks, fidgets, movement, self-talk) as needed to maximize learning and progress toward goals.

Tier 1: This Look For is one of seven that represents Quality First Instruction for all learners.


person sitting with legs crossed

Employ attention and focus and delay gratification

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Sustain focus and engagement in the learning experience over the course of the observation, including "re-setting" when they lose focus

  • Complete learning tasks, even if it adds additional time and effort, after feedback

Questions to Ask Learners

  • Why is it important to maintain your focus today?

  • What are some ways you make yourself stay on task during learning?

Person holding a magnifying glass

Focus attention on the positive aspects of a situation when experiencing stress

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Complete learning tasks even after they express its difficulty or challenge or frustration with it

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What do you do when the learning or task is hard and causes you stress?

person working at a desk with a mute sign above their head

Control impulsivity or other distraction behaviors

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Recognize their need to take a break

  • Self monitor by moving their seating area or using other tools (i.e headphones, table tents) to create focus in their learning

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What do you do when you lose focus or start to get off task?

watering can with water droplets falling on a flower

Maintain effort on task in spite of potential distractions

Evidence of Learner Behaviors

  • Notice classmates during a group discussion begin to talk about unrelated topics, so the learner steers the conversation back to the academic content

  • Keeps an eye on time and task and works at a speed and focus that shows urgency and dedication

Questions to Ask Learners

  • What do you do when there are other distractions to regain focus on learning?

  • What do you do to make sure you use all of your learning time effectively?


Learners who can maintain their intentions to learn despite competing goals/interests and can remain focused through self-regulatory strategies are able to engage in learning and master content and skills.


Learning facilitators can support learners with academic urgency by fostering self-regulation and developing a sense of urgency and modeling behaviors such as prioritizing and optimizing time.

Educator Actions

Learning facilitators support learners in maximizing their time and energy to further progress toward goals.

CSTPs: 2.7, 4.4

ribbon graphic


Create daily goals with learners to manage their academic focus and learning behavior. Use visual timers and other cues to help learners manage their learning time, sustain focus, and avoid distractions. It will also help to create specific learning spaces to support learners’ urgency, including reading centers or independent work stations.


  • Provide explicit direct instruction on self-regulation skills, such as engaging in mindfulness techniques to direct focus or responding (not reacting) to emotions that come up while working (P)

  • Anticipate possible areas of common learner misunderstanding of concepts and planning interventions to ensure no time is wasted (P)

  • Operate at a speed that models learning is a priority (P/F)

  • Use each moment to further progress toward learning objectives (P/F)

  • Ensure educator talk only occurs when necessary and is clear and concise when it occurs in order to prioritize learner processing (P/F)

  • Communicate and reinforce high expectations for learners’ productivity and progress (P/F)

  • Acknowledge when learners are using time and energy purposefully as reinforcement (F)

  • Redirect learners when off-task and help them identify a strategy to self-regulate in the future (F)

  • Communicate clear directions and rationale for activities, including varied daily objectives that allow learners to work in a self-directed manner towards their goals (F)

  • Establish clear routines for starting class, including a routine for entering class, a consistent response to learners who arrive late, an opening activity that learners can start independently, clear norms and expectations visible to learners, and a procedure for taking attendance (P)

  • Establish clear routines for ending class, including end-of-class reflection and assessment, and a routine for exiting and resetting the space (P)

  • Be explicit about the thinking work and/or written work that learners are expected to complete during and after the whole group experience (P)

  • Purposefully provide opportunities for learners to take notes and jot ideas during the whole group experience (P/F)

  • Purposefully include opportunities for learners to discuss with their partner or group during the whole group experience (P/F)

  • Monitor notes and/or discussions and follow up with learners who were not participating fully (F)

  • Facilitate frequent opportunities for feedback, checks for understanding, and opportunities for self-reflection on progress (P/F)

  • Limit educator talk time to either move at a purposeful pace through the whole group experience to maximize time for personalized activities or to leverage learner voice during the experience (P/F)

P = planned F = facilitated spontaneously