Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Helpful or Coddling?

Teaching 7th graders, every school season I get a good number of them who have absolutely NO organizational skills. Our school gives each student a binder and dividers at the beginning of the school year. Most have backpacks to use for lugging their school stuff. The vast majority of students at my school come from self-contained classrooms where they have a desk to keep all their stuff. I don't know how much "battle" is waged by elementary teachers about students keeping their desks contents neat and organized, but as I said, many arrive to us with no organizational skills. I get the impression many of their parents are not active in helping them keep their stuff neat, organized etc.

The main problem many have with this is that when it comes time to turn in their work, they can't find it. Their assignment might be in their backpack, crammed amongst the remains of who knows what else in the pile of mulch found in many of their backpacks. Their assignment might be someplace in their binder, if they have a binder. But most have not been taught to take the five seconds it takes to open the binder, turn to the section of the binder for the class, unsnap the rings and put their assignment there. I and many other junior high teachers try to get them to do this, but with the high numbers of students we deal with, we are not always successful. And from the student point of view, it does not seem to matter too much to many of them. There are also those who simply shove their papers into the front pocket of their binder, or even worse, cram their papers into already bulging sheet protectors. OR, they just don't know where it is and cannot find the assignment anywhere in their neighborhood.

I wish my school gave us teachers more time to work with these kids, because for many of them, this lack of organization is killing them academically. One idea I am contemplating, for some of my students, is classroom folders. Folders they put work for my classroom and keep it in my classroom. But, this does not help them learn much responsibility. Nor does it work for any work they have to take home to complete that they did not complete in class or have for homework. Is this coddling them too much ? I can create some storage space in my classroom, if I need to. I have spaces that are being taken up by stuff I don't use and may never use or need. Getting rid of it is hard, since I tend to be a hoarder, but If I try, I can create space for student work folders.

What do you do ? I am open to suggestions. I probably won't begin anything new in the remainder of this current school season, but I am trying to think ahead for the next batch of kids we'll get. Please share your ideas !

Thanks for reading my blog.