Organizational skills are important to a student's success at any age. That said, it can be a bit of a dry topic. Keep reading how four Confident Counselors teach organizational skills to students in K-8.
Make It Real and Personal
Lots of our students hear “you need to be organized” but don’t actually know what this means or what it looks like. My first step to teaching organization is to explicitly show students what it means to have an organized desk and backpack. I give them examples and non-examples.
Another important step is getting student investment in the importance of organization and the reason for it, so I talk to them about how being organized can actually make their lives easier.
And last, I work with my students on creating their own personal plan for improving their organization. Sometimes it’s them writing down steps to take to become organized and sometimes it’s making a plan with their parents or teacher about having an adult facilitate regular “backpack cleanouts”.
Show Impact of Disorganization
I like talking about how long being organized vs. unorganized takes us. First, I give them a messy backpack full of trash and loose papers. Along with the backpack I give them a “scavenger hunt” checklist of things to find in the back pack. We time how long it takes us to find those items. We then repeat with a clean and organized backpack and compare our times. Afterwards I ask them to clean up the messy backpack and we again time ourselves.
To debrief we compare time, energy and effort used with each assignment, feelings going through the messy backpack and finally what they would do with the “extra” time organization brings.
I’ve addressed organizational skills in small groups and in individual sessions using this No Prep Study Skills Lesson. My main focus is to help students learn how to organize their time. My students have 1:1 technology, so I am helping students use the calendar app as an agenda. Students put project deadlines, homework, and test dates on the calendar, as well as, non-school related activities. This helps them to take ownership of their academics.
Incorporate It Into Lessons
Teaching students organizational skills is an important part of our job as school counselors! I work this topic into every guidance lesson as well as many group and individual sessions. I spend 10 minutes of every guidance lesson teaching a mini-lesson on organizational topics such as cleaning out your backpack, setting up your binder, or using a planner.
In group or individual sessions, we analyze a student's grades to identify weak areas and then create a SMART goal to improve in that area.
- Here is my favorite SMART goal organizational activity, it can be used in groups or whole class lessons.
In all of these lessons and sessions, I also use a fictional high school athlete named Chad to share his hard-earned life lessons in becoming an organized, successful student. The students love hearing how to stay organized from “Chad”. You can find Chad’s story in my book, Get Your Goal On Volume 2.
Do you teach organizational skills? Share what you do in the comments!