Organization starts with communication. One person's idea of organized can be drastically different than another's. No matter what grade level you teach, it's always a great idea to spend time at the beginning of the year helping your students organize the supplies they'll be using throughout the year and establishing a system for their use. This will not only promote a sense of responsibility and control for your students,but will reduce the number of disruptions caused by misplaced materials - two important things to any successful learning environment!
Here are a few quick guidelines and tips for helping your students get and stay organized:
- Ask for specific supplies and be clear about how you expect these supplies to be organized. For example, instead of asking parents to purchase (4) three prong folders, you might ask for 1 blue, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 green three prong folder and clearly state that students will be using the blue folder for math, the red for social studies, etc.
- Actually take time on the first day of school to help your students organize their supplies. Taking time in the beginning of the year to properly label folders/dividers and place them in the proper order will save time in the long run!
- Have a model notebook/folders for your students to reference.
- Don't take it for granted that your students have been taught how to be organized. Explain even the smallest details that may seem obvious to you - i.e. your homework should be placed behind the homework divider and not in front of it.
- Make maintaining organization as easy as possible. If your students keep their work in a binder, make sure that handouts and important documents that need to stay in their binder are three-hole punched. Always include headings and titles that make it clear which divider or folder handouts should be filed in.
Of course, these guidelines and precautions will only work if your students are actually committed to the organizational system. Positive reinforcement (stickers, compliments, a special reward) can be a great way to motivate your students to stick with the system, however some classes might require a bigger incentive such as actually keeping track of and assigning a grade to their organizational progress.
Organization is key to success in the classroom and in many aspects of life. Teaching your students how to get and stay organized will not only benefit your time together in the classroom, but will provide them with a skill that translates to other areas of their lives as well!