Organization is a twelve letter word that can be incredibly daunting. It is challenging during a normal school year to keep students organized, but even more so now with hybrid and remote learning models in place. Since virtual learning started taking place in mid-March, many teachers have organized and reorganized many, many times. Here’s the lowdown on some different ways to organize and why they may be helpful.
Benefits of Organizing Students
There are many benefits to organizing students. When students are organized, stress levels are reduced. The feeling of being overwhelmed can cause a student, as well as teachers, to shut down. The more organized one is, the more that can be accomplished in a shorter period of time.
Being organized can help you gain a sense of control in your life and can also help you to keep students organized. When you feel cluttered yourself, it is impossible to keep others organized around you. When you are organized, you put yourself into a place of calm which can give you energy and motivation to keep pushing forward.
Strategies for Organizing Students Remotely
Google Classroom — everyone is using it! Keep your Google Classroom organized, and organize it often. There is no one correct way to organize your Google Classroom, and there’s certainly hundreds of suggestions out there, but whatever you do, take the time to walk students through it. Show students how the classroom looks from your point-of-view, how you create and assign the work, and how to navigate the classroom. Explain what they need to look at each day in order to know what needs to be completed. Transparency is key.
Make sure to include topic headings for your classroom. I have seen many teachers organize their headings in different ways. I create topics and continually add to them. One of my topics is a “Weekly Schedule” and each week, I post a schedule of Google Meet times and assignments that need to be completed. I have observed many teachers create a heading for each day and all assignments for that day are posted under that heading. There are many ways to utilize topic headings, but one thing is certain: you need them to make your classroom easier to navigate for students, parents, and even for yourself.
Due dates on assignments are so important! This will help students to prioritize assignments and know exactly when their work needs to be completed. Creating an agenda each day is also helpful in keeping students organized and knowing when assignments are due. Encourage students to use a homework planner to keep track of assignments and even a monthly calendar to monitor long-term assignments.
Multiple Google Classrooms
One brilliant idea I was taught was to create a new Google Classroom for each marking period. After one marking period, I had as many as fifteen topics in some of my Google Classrooms. This way you and the students can start fresh and not have an overwhelming amount of topics to search. When I presented this idea to my students to see their thoughts, it was an overwhelming response to create a new classroom each marking period in order to stay more organized and feel less overwhlemed.
Checking and Grading Assigments
Keep up to date on checking and grading assignments! This is definitely easier said than done. It is a large task in itself to get the assignments created and assigned, but an even more intense task to check and grade these assignments. There are many times it seems there are not enough hours in the day, but somehow, some way, you need to find time to check work. Students need feedback on assignments in real time, when the feedback is authentic and understood.
In my own classroom, I am sure to at least check over assignments on their due date. I don’t necessarily grade them right away, but I make sure to mark who turned it in on time and who did not complete the assignment. I will comment on those that did not turn in the assignment with a specific remark about when they can complete the assignment by and still receive credit. I just copy and paste that comment for all the students that still owe that particular assignment. Sometimes the students just need a gentle reminder for completing work.
Organizing your emails is so important! Creating various labels can help to keep you organized and in turn, keep the students more organized. For example, when you send an email to a student, place it under a label indicating that it is a student email and the class the student is in.
Organizing parent emails in a similar matter can also help with organization. Keeping the line of communication open between school and home is more important now than ever! When you are communicating with students and families on a regular basis, it helps them to stay more organized, but you also must have a system to keep it organized on your end, so you do not get stressed or overwhelmed.
One final thought on organization for students is to help them understand what tabs should always be open. For example, my students always need to have their weekly agenda as a tab open on their Chromebooks. This is an easy reference as to the work that needs to be completed. Having too many tabs open can be overwhelming and create a sort of chaos, so as the teacher, you must model to students how to keep it organized.
We are all living and working through a crisis right now, and staying organized is one way to keep stress levels down. As Henry B. Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Keep on caring, educating, and organizing your students to help them reach success. Be THAT teacher!