Email this pageEmail This Page

Behavior: teach organization!

Date: September 15th, 2016
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: Organization. Organization, folks, is a cognitive skill. It’s not a behavior! It’s a cognitive skill, and our job is to teach organization.

This is how you teach it. You go to what you want the end result to be. From there you work backwards. This is where I’ve really found kids get it, when I teach them what they want the end to be.

You want the end result to be that the student is able to find his/her book, have his/her backpack, and have his/her lunch money. That’s the end result. Now let’s backtrack and figure out, what are the steps that the student could use to make sure those things happen?

We always go from the beginning out, but I’m seeing that kids will get it better if they get the big picture first and then figure out how they’re going to make it.

My middle school kids will use their pants pockets. They say, “I put everything in my left pants pocket.”

I say, “OK, well let’s use the left pants pocket as the inbox and the right pants pocket will be the outbox.”

I might get some homework that’s a little crumpled and has some Twinkie crumbs on it, but at least I’m getting it. Before, I wasn’t getting it at all because I was trying to jam them into an organizational system like folders and notebooks and color coded and this and that, and it didn’t work for them because the pants pocket worked better.

We’ve got to figure out, what’s their system of organization, and present those ideas. You all know what it’s like. At the beginning of the year, didn’t your desk look fantastic? At the beginning of the year, it looked great. But by the end of the year there are piles. But as long as you’re still getting the job done, is that a problem? No, it’s not.