Part of my job this year is working with select students on their planning and organizing skills so they can be more efficient with turning in assignments, writing in their planners, and learning routines that can help them be successful. It's a long story how this job fell into my lap but truthfully, I like working with kids one-on-one to help them make good choices. Making a difference is kinda why I got into this job in the first place!
I spend about 20 minutes every other day, with three different students, helping them stay on top of things. The current plan is to work for a full month, set goals, and re-assess what is/isn't working at the end of the month. Truthfully, it isn't a ton of work and I'm blown away by the progress and confidence these students are making every time we meet.
I was telling Eric about this facet of my job today and how much I enjoy it. He listened and then said, "you do realize not everyone is as freaky organized as you, right?"
WHAT? Not everyone loves to write down to-do lists? Not everyone loves to write in a planner? Not everyone loves binders, dividers, and how pretty an organized notebook looks?
Actually, I jest. I know all to well not everyone has these skills. Once upon a time, I worked closely with one young man for two full middle school years on these skills. Last year, he sent me an email telling me that he was graduating from college, with a 3.8 GPA, and going into business. When I first met him, I don't know that anyone thought he would have graduated from high school and without learning those skills, he might not have.
That's the key...
ANYONE can LEARN them. It is a long road and change doesn't come overnight. It takes hard work, diligence and patience. However, change will come and students will start to feel confident and realize the importance of the skills. In the past week, all three students are caught up in missing assignments AND have turned in all current assignments. All have written in their planners every day and all have a to-do list. One told me today that this is the best he has felt all year because he turned in every single assignment. They know it will take time for grades to improve. It's a whole lot easier to dig the hole than to climb out of it. But at least they are moving in the right direction. All I do is sit across from them, ask what needs to be done, sit there while they do it, and then follow up the next time we meet. They have to do the hard work. So far, so good!
So, I know this is a lengthy post and I'll wrap it up. I'm not writing this to say "oh, look what a great person I am". I'm writing it because I love when students learn. I love teaching others. When it comes to these skills, all I know is they come naturally to me. It comes from the years when my parents sat all three of us down, starting in middle school, and we had study hour, from 6-8PM at the dinner table. We had to be organized. We had to be prepared. And we had to work. My brother struggled the most and I watched my mother show infinite patience with him. I remind myself of that patience when I work with these students. It doesn't come naturally to them but they can learn.
Thanks, Mom and Dad. I'm paying it forward. Just like you taught me.