Disorganized students come in various guises: younger students, older students, male students, female students, well-mannered
students, disruptive students, and, all too often, failing students. What these different students do share, however, is the tendency to be disorganized and overwhelmed. They are the ones still looking for their homework when everyone else has turned theirs in. They are the ones who never have a pencil or paper. They are the ones whose backpacks are stuffed with wadded up papers, broken pencils, and overdue assignments. Fortunately, there is a great deal that caring teachers can do to help our students become more organized and successful. If you are currently teaching a student who needs help with organization, here are
some simple strategies that may help.
Don’t let the problem grow. As soon as you notice that a student is disorganized, spend time working together to help that student
become organized. Think in terms of small increments each day instead of an overwhelming clean-out once in a while.
Make getting organized and staying that way part of the daily culture of your class. When students are aware of the expectations that their teachers have for them, then they are more likely to rise to those expectations. Good organization should be everybody’s business. The few minutes that you spend on this each day will reap big benefits when students can find
Insist that students copy down their homework assignments in a planner. They should do this even if you allow them to photograph their assignments from the board or if it is posted on a class website. Using a planner encourages students to plan their work instead of just copying down homework in a rush.
Assign students to study teams or, at least, allow them to work on organization with a partner. Many students benefit from working with a study buddy so that they can check each other’s folders, binders, and book bags before leaving class. They can also take notes for each other and gather assignments when a team member is absent.