It was with vexing dismay that I realized that my job as teacher was consuming me. That awareness was the catalyst for a bit of rearranging of my classroom procedures. I started with what is probably the least important assignment that causes me much consternation: students’ interactive notebooks.
Middle school students are basically disorganized even when told exactly how to organize something, such as a notebook. Some of my students’ notebooks are in such disarray that I despaired of their successfully studying the contents. Whereas I was a student who relished learning and inhaled the scent of new notebooks, folders, and writing utensils, many adolescents today mutilate their notebooks beyond usefulness. As I strove to create hyper-organized notes and table of contents, some students were writing love notes and resharpening broken pencils to nubs so they could scribble pointlessly in notebooks. For these students, earning a passing grade on a notebook check was an impossibility.
Today, I transmitted the sole responsibility of notebook organization to my students. For the rest of the school year, students are responsible for what they choose to record in notebooks. Each week, I will give a mini-quiz over the information we have covered. It’s genius really. Instead of gathering raggedy notebooks to pore over, I will recoup some much needed time for myself; I don’t have to cry at the sight of strangled, de-boned spiral notebooks anymore.
With this new tactic, I predict that I will save myself about twelve hours of grading and TOC-making over the next several weeks.
Time rearranged = 12 hours