How Do You Teach Your Students to be Organized

The subject of the December 1 #ALedchat  was “Organization Made Easy.” One of the questions we discussed was: “How do you teach students to get organized?” Here are some of the responses and the commentary I would like to add.


Todd Whitaker often says, “When the principal sneezes, the whole school catches a cold.” For those who are building-level administrators, I thinks it’s true that when students see us doing something that works, something that makes our lives easier, they are eager to learn the secret. The same is true for the classroom teacher. First, we “walk the walk,” then we are better equipped to help our students.



Adults are not the only ones who are skeptical of “one more thing to do-itis.” A tool that helps you organize your life is not “one more thing.” It’s the one thing that’s responsible for so many fewer distractions, missed appointments, embarrassment due to forgetting, and missed opportunities. As adults, we reach a point where we realize we can’t continue the “fly by the seat of the pants” approach and hope we remember the right things at the right time.

At some point, we realize we have to have a system. Many of our students see the need. They just need to know that it’s easy, it’s teachable, and they can have it much quicker than they ever imagined possible. As teachers, we have to provide the reinforcement until a good idea becomes an ingrained habit.

The statistics on doctor visits for stress-related conditions is staggering. The figure is something like 75-90%. The trend towards more information coming at us faster does not seem likely to subside. Our best hope is a system which traps what we need to see, presents it at the right time, and helps us filter the noise.

Much of our discussion centered around digital tools. Because so much input comes digitally, it only makes sense that we have digital ways to deal with it. Let’s not forget, however, that we still have the influx of paper and needs ways to deal with it as well.  

Digital tools don’t make us organized any more than a calculator makes us better at math. The tool adds speed and efficiency. A paper planner is the perfect start. As a principal, my 1st graders used them successfully, and parents loved them. As students get older and their commitments arrive digitally, graduating to digital calendars and to-do lists is a natural progression.

Great example of that graduation to digital tools for organization.

Stay tuned for more tips based on the #ALedchat. If you would like to join in the fun, #ALedchat happens every Monday at 9:00PM CST.