The Survival Kit

Initiated by young dyslexics for other dyslexics

Seven habits for highly disorganised people

By Karen Thomas, (USA TODAY)

Learning Outside the Lines offers seven organising basics:

  1. Every notebook needs your name, phone number, e-mail address, school address and mailbox number on the first page.
  2. Find a home where you always keep your notebooks. A backpack, messenger bag or spot next to your desk would work well.
  3. Choose and structure your notebooks according to who you are. This might be as pragmatic as associating colors with classes or scrounging binders at the Salvation Army. Identifiable binders also are a lot more likely to come back to you if you leave them behind.
  4. Giving yourself reasons to keep coming back to your notebook is the surest way not to lose it, whether that means storing pencils in there or keeping a timepiece tucked into the front.
  5. Avoid notebook crossover. If you accidentally grab your biology book on your way to psych class, it is still better to take notes on a loose piece of paper than in the notebook you have with you. Otherwise, those notes are probably as good as gone.
  6. Once a week, sit down at a coffee shop with all your notebooks and book bag and tidy up.
  7. Transitions between places or tasks are when stuff gets lost. Do a quick mental checklist of three questions before you move: Do I have all the books I brought to class? Did I leave anything under my seat? Did I stuff any random papers someplace?

Organise the Classroom

To effectively manage the classroom, you must, "mean what you say" and "say what you mean"

The Students will respond straight away, if you create meaning to your word - Meaning with predictable, consistence is the key.

Twelve simple steps to Re-Organising your classroom.

  1. Own the problem - Realise that what you are doing is not working, assume personal responsibility for the change.
  2. Collectively develop some simple classroom rules. Examples: Teacher to student, "When you are talking, I won't interrupt, you do the same or "Hey folks, if we're all walking around no-one can get anything done: In-seat work-time, means In-seat, and then ask the binding question, "Do we all agree on these rules"?
  3. Give power and personal responsibility, back the kids. Examples: Teacher to student. "Can anyone make you do anything which you really don't want to do? If you get out of your seat without permission, who has really made the choice? Therefore, if you behave outside the class rules, who makes that choice?
  4. Develop Predicable Consequences: Students need to be able to predict when their behaviour will result in a consequence. Examples: Billy can predict that being out of his seat will result in loosing free time at lunch. If, Billy is out if his seat, the teacher should ask, "Billy I see you've chosen to do lunch with Me today." "During lunch the teacher should ask, "Billy, how is your previous choice helping You? "Silence is very powerful" If not at lunch, Billy chooses to make things difficult, add Another consequence, " Billy's behaviour choice will bring on a new (looser) consequence. "Billy are you now requesting to stay after school".
  5. Be creative: If one consequence does not work, try another more negative consequence. Always make the consequences known so that the student will have the knowledge and can predict a behavioural outcome. They will test you to find out if you really mean it...MEAN IT! Negative consequences encourage impulse control. And once you've re-organised your class to the point that they regard you as a teacher who "means what he - she says and say what he/she means", you will not have to spend all your energy on the negative. Old struggles will be extinguished because students will evaluate the consequences and choose effectively the control on their own behaviour. Be sure that the consequences are will considered, reasonable, appropriate and enforceable, not based on old scripts of quick emotions and empty threats. However, initially there will be a power struggle, you have permission to win, you have the wisdom and the recognition to win. Your class will stable very fast, yet initially you should expect them to really hassle you.
  6. Declare a Teacher's promise. Declare that your students are SO important to you that you'll gladly give up outside time i.e. (miss lunch, after school etc.) for them. The break down is all too often teachers don't mean it. When it actually comes to missing the free time at lunch, lots of teachers find creative reasons to not follow through with their consequences. Therefore, why should they (students) listen? They can just let the teacher go through the same old speeches and same old threats. it doesn't matter because there's no meaning to their (teacher) words, and no teeth in their bark. Surprise them, (students) MEAN IT. There's no better time to start than now - TODAY! Roll up your sleeves, set your plan, fully mean what you say and keep your promise.
  7. Emphasise Positive Responses. When you see positive changes, acknowledge it, "Hey Billy, you raised your hand, Thanks, nice job, now what can I do for you?.
  8. Develop a Classroom Theme. Emphasise personal classroom responsibility, i.e., quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry, or I am responsible: I will standalone.
  9. Role Play Old behaviours and new responses develop and play out typical classroom scenarios.
  10. Reward Positive Behaviour Responses. Do this both individually and collectively. Rewards can be anything from individual verbal praise or pat on the back to a classroom party. Be creative.
  11. Avoid Revealing the Inadequacies of Slower Students. Incorporate co-operative learning structures into your classroom.
  12. Use you New Energy to bring your Curriculum Alive. Education at its best - should be fun!

Help all of us to create a better place for all our wonderful children to want to learn.