What can you do?
There are always a couple students each year who really struggle to stay organised. Maybe you notice this characteristic in your own children. Messy desks and work areas, can’t locate things, have difficulty getting organised for class, often don't have the tools they need for the day or forget homework, are unaware of deadlines, have trouble prioritising or planning to complete activities, and perhaps this causes them to be unfocused.
Here are a few tips to help support these students and relieve them of the stresses around becoming organised. It can be a frustration for child, parents and teacher, and can often impact on instruction time, while they struggle to find supplies and books. You may often hear from their parents that their bedrooms are the same, or their schoolbags are full of all manner of rubbish and trinkets (Notes that should have been handed in weeks ago, bits of lunch and toys etc)
Involve the parents
A brief phone call or a parent interview to determine what struggles they may be having at home with organisation and completing work. Together you can create support simply with just a few simple tips. This may involve creating a checklist, or parent-teacher communication book with a reward chart attached for additional encouragement. The website below has a list that the parents could use at home.
- Click on this link to find a great Pinterest board with checklists and ideas
Encourage Responsibility for bringing materials to school
Review with the student the materials they will need to bring with them every day. If they forget, simply loan them what s/he will need for the day, but consider taking some form of 'deposit' from them until they are returned at the end of the day. Have a box of spare pencils on hand so that they can quietly get one if it is needed.
Help them organise their work area
You may provide them with a container or pencil case with items such as pencils, pens, highlighters, rubbers, glue sticks, calculator, and scissors which is to remain on their desk at school for use in class time only. Include a set of post it notes for them to use so that they can create checklists of steps they will need to complete in order. This will take some modelling, but it is a great strategy as they remove a post-it note after each is completed. They could be simple steps such as 1. Name on the top 2. Read and highlight the questions 3.Get work book and write headings and date 4. Write in answers 5. Proofread and edit answers. 6. Hand in work for marking.
Eliminate the clutter from around their desks so that no distracting toys etc are allowed on them (this is often a good class rule). Have a or math facts laminated card with hundreds chart, times tables chart and any useful terms. There are many brilliant themed ones available at the Mathematics Shed
Show Students what organisation looks like
Model for them exactly how they should organise their desk, even if it means drawing a diagram for them to refer to. Make sure that your own desk is an example to them, or seat them next to an organised student who can role model for them.
Organise your own Classroom
As their teacher, you are the model. Your classroom needs to be a reflection of that so that the message is consistent. Label all of your equipment, have folders and checklists available for reference. Student seating should be organised in a way that there is clear movement around the room and encourage students to return everything to the exact place it came from.
I am a huge fan of colour coding, the benefits are multi-sensory and can help to organise a disorganised person with uniform colours. This can be a game changer for students who struggle to find things. Colour code each subject, so that your labels reflect the equipment that will be used for that subject. These colour clues help students to return supplies, replace books etc.
This blog has some wonderful tips and strategies: http://www.ladybugsteacherfiles.com/2014/03/color-coding-classroom.html
I have created some free graphic organisers for you to download: http://selz.co/VJNkuYEjW
If you like this then maybe this bundle will be the answer to some of your behaviour and classroom management issues. Click on the link below to purchase this great resource: http://selz.co/4yzB91MsW
Hope these tips and strategies help both you and your students to become more organised in the future,
Nikki Tester (Course Manager ClassCover Relief Teacher Association)