I’m a list guy. When I need to make sure that I remember to do something, I write it down. Well, actually, I type it into a Stickies note on my laptop. At points during a week, my To Do list will be quite lengthy. While seeing a formidably long list might put some people on edge, it gives me a purpose. I always know what I need to be doing to accomplish my work and goals for the week. When I complete a task or item on my list, I delete it from my laptop. Now that’s a satisfying feeling. I love removing items from my list. It feels good, like therapy or ice cream. Lists keep me organized regarding work I need to complete. I manage my life through lists. Without them, I’d probably be living a very disorganized, chaotic, and stress-filled life, never knowing what is going on or what I need to do. Lists allow me to live in the moment and enjoy life as I don’t need to stay focused on remembering what I need to do next since I have it recorded somewhere. Lists are my safety vest as I navigate my way through the tumultuous waters of life.
As a teacher, I try hard to be sure that I’m teaching my students effective organizational skills and strategies. If I want to effectively prepare my students for meaningful lives in a global society, I need to know that they can manage themselves. Being organized mentally and physically are crucial to one’s success in life. Organized students are more able to excel in life and meet their goals as their daily lives are free of stress and clutter. Teaching students how to be organized is no easy task. It requires much guidance, practice, and repetition. I train my students to see the value and purpose in being organized. This starts at the very beginning of the year as I explain to the boys how and why we do things a certain way in the sixth grade. So far this year, we’ve covered the following organizational techniques and skills in the sixth grade:
- Maintain a neatly organized binder with separate tabs for each class. All papers are properly placed into the correct section. Every paper or item in the binder has a specific place and purpose.
- Maintain an updated planbook in which they record daily homework assignments. This should always be filled out a week ahead so that they are prepared to write in long term assignments.
- Maintain a clutter free and neatly organized work space at their desk in the classroom. All materials should be neatly stacked at the top of the table so that the students have plenty of free workspace directly in front of them.
- Chunk large tasks into smaller pieces so that long term projects don’t seem so daunting.
- Use a growth mindset to be able to tackle and persevere through any problem encountered.
- Know that multitasking is a myth. The students all know that listening to music with words while working is ineffective. Trying to do more than one mentally demanding task well is impossible because our brains are wired to focus and survive, not split brain power.
Today in Humanities class, I was able to help the students understand the importance in delegating tasks when working with others. As this is a difficult skill to teach students because they are so self-absorbed in sixth grade, I make sure to introduce it slowly and methodically. I don’t cover it at the start of the school year because I want the students to learn how to coexist with others before they learn how to work effectively with their peers. Before the students began working on the Create the Perfect State final project in class today, I reviewed the project requirements and procedure they will utilize to complete this task. I briefly mentioned how they should talk to their partner about breaking up the task into smaller parts so that they are not both doing the same thing at the same time. I didn’t say more than this as it is really the first time I’ve discussed this skill with the students. I wanted to see what they could do on their own first, without assistance or direct teaching.
As the students worked in class today, I observed their behaviors. How were they working with their partner? Were they communicating effectively? Were they delegating tasks? Were they thinking critically and collaborating effectively? I noticed many awesome things my students were doing. They were using creativity to complete the task as they tried out different computer applications and created unique names for their states. They were sharing ideas with their partner in meaningful ways. They were actively listening to each other’s ideas as they spoke. Many of the groups were also delegating tasks well. This was my favorite part of today’s class as it means that my students are experimenting with the power of relying on and trusting others. This is no easy feat. While one person worked on learning about how to use Google Sites, the other student worked on creating a map of their island state. It was great to see the boys breaking the tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks. I love it.
At the close of class today, I shared, with the boys, my observations. I mentioned how I saw lots of delegating happening in the classroom today. I mentioned specific examples of how one student was working on one part of the website while the other student worked on a different part. They were breaking the large project down into small parts. I explained how useful that can be when working in a group or with a partner. I think many of the students seem to understand the value in delegating tasks. Tomorrow, the boys will have another chance to practice this important skill as they continue working on the Create the Perfect State project in class.
Helping students to see the importance in organizing how groups work together is something I value highly. I want the students to see that in the real world, people have to work together. People work in groups, and the skills those individuals bring to the group will determine the group’s effectiveness. People who know how to delegate tasks and effectively lead a group, will be much more successful in life than people who don’t understand the value in breaking large tasks down into smaller parts. Delegation is truly a life skill. being able to teach students the importance of it now, will help them progress forward in life at a rapid pace. Large, big tasks can seem scary, unless, you find a way to break them down into smaller pieces and make use of others to get the job done.