Archive for the ‘organization’ Category

Well first, a disclaimer: I’m not actually in the O.C.–I just liked the rhythm of the title. However, I am sure at some point all of California will turn into a giant Sim City 2000 type megalopolis. Hopefully, there will be arcologies–because those were very cool.
That digression aside–I’ve been in to my classroom a few times this week, but I haven’t been as productive as I would like. The temperatures have been in the mid/high 90’s, and although that translates to the 80’s in my classroom, it’s still too hot to get any work done.

For a few days, I got very little done and thought about ms. whatsit’s post on professionalism and the habits of teachers, but now I’m just getting anxious. Whether or not my district is counting on teachers coming in early (they are), I need to come in early. I have so much to do.
1. Books to put away–they were taken out of bookcases at the end of the year. We made an “attempt” to put them in boxes alphabetically, but it was June.
2. Posters/Displays/etc to put up. If you read my posts from last year, you would know that I’m…challenged when it comes to putting up anything in a straight line. For years, I blamed my height (I always had to “stretch” to make it to that top spot). Now, I realize that at some point I’m so desperate to just be done with my room that I might get a little less…picky…as time goes on.
3. Photocopy introduction letter for beginning of school year. And, oh yeah, write it as well.
4. Meetings, meetings, meetings. And I tell you, if they don’t turn on the AC on the days we are required to be there, I cannot take responsibility for what might happen. (Although if you’ve seen Black Books you might know–Season 2/Episode 2)
5. Have at least one dream where I get to school late/forget where my classroom is/lose my keys or all of the above.

But mostly, I just hope the AC is on tomorrow so I can get my room “ready,” and let the real work begin!

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I’ve been struggling since the beginning of the year with the question of student organization. I have two quite hard-working classes, most of them are (slowly) improving their skills and trying quite hard to be “students” (something many of them had never considered before). Where do we still struggle? Organization. They shed paper; they loose books just by putting them on a desk; they never, ever, know where their reading study guides are.
Why is this? And what should I do?
I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons why students forget things. Number one, of course, is the hungry-backpack-hamsters that eat all paper put in and send out only overdue math homework. But I’ve also noticed a tendency of students to not have binders or to have binders but to have papers shoved into the side pockets and never use the three rings. Some of this tendency, of course, is about maturity–but I feel as if some of it is a basic hole in my students’ educations. Somewhere along the way, they never learned that life is much, much easier when papers are in a binder (as opposed to piled in the bottom of a backpack).
What should I do?
My colleagues seem equally divided between to camps: Let them lose stuff–at some point they learn to organize and Do everything you can to make them organize as part of the class, don’t allow disorganization because of your system, not theirs.
Right now, I feel I am somewhere in between. Because I cannot stand it when students don’t have materials, each student keeps important papers in a folder beneath their chair. However, I do not chase, nag, or pressure for homework and due dates. I didn’t start out there (I am a bit put-off by “organizing” for students–mainly because I am not naturally organized myself and find it difficult to design efficient ways to organize for each student!), but I’ve slowly found that if I can provide a place for organization, at least the student has a chance to achieve it.
I’m still struggling with this idea because I’m not sure they’ll ever learn to organize themselves if it is my system they are following. I’m sure there will be more on this later.

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The books are in! Okay, well, I still need to find one more bookshelf (apparently five just aren’t enough), but most of the books are put away. Of course, this means that I need to start setting up my filing system for the year, get my posters on the walls…and put up bulletin boards. I hate putting up bulletin boards. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not quite tall enough to really reach the top edge of the paper, or whether I just drive myself nuts with my inability to staple anything straight, but putting up bulletin boards is a huge struggle for me. I usually end up with at least one stapled finger and several torn borders before the project is over. I also always end up convincing myself that it will be “safe” to stand on my chair/desk/counter and, in consequence, tumble to the ground at least once.

As the year goes on, most of my wall-space is covered with student work, but at the beginning of the year I like having my room colorful and welcoming. I also like having designated areas for reading, writing, and social studies, but the board I work the most on is my “board of success.”

The board of success came about because of a random conversation I had with a student. She had won a medal at a track meet, but she felt like there was nowhere, at school at least, for her to celebrate her accomplishment. Now, this was a student who regularly did well, but not perfect, on tests and quizzes, and she did not normally want to see her work up on a wall. She did, though, want to see her medal up somewhere. We decided together that it would be nice to have a designated board for all success–not just academic success.

This board is important to me. As a teacher, I feel an incredible responsibilty to teach my students more than the subject assigned. I also want to make sure that they know that success is not confined to academic (or monetary) matters, but they can be successful in any area they put effort and passion into.

Of course, writing about it isn’t getting it put up–but wasn’t that the point of this post?

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