Last week I was on the other side of the table and attended my daughter’s middle school conferences. She’s in 7th grade and this year has definitely been an adjustment; higher expectations by her teachers, more work, more responsibilities, and puberty. That doesn’t even touch on the social distractions of friend groups, social media, etc. The list could go on and on.
I was reminded in all of her conferences of the importance of staying organized and managing your time as a student. Listening to my daughter’s teachers, I got the clear message from teachers that the majority of middle school students struggle with organization. There is a lot of mention of missing assignments, forgotten work and homework unaccounted for.
I attended my daughter’s math class and I was heartened by the words of her incredible teacher. She is a former lawyer who went back to school to get her teaching credential to teach middle school math. To voluntarily spend your days with 7th graders and teach them math? She has my utmost respect before I’ve even walked into her classroom. She started out her discussion about math mindsets, and as she said, she believes everyone can learn math at high levels. She said, “mistakes help your brain grow” and her favorite term is “…yet”. In I haven’t mastered this yet, or I’m working on something but haven’t solved it yet. How amazing is that?
After speaking about mindset and some of the specifics of the class, this teacher spent the rest of the time talking about organization and the time management expected in this class. I couldn’t help but pay attention to the connection between the two. Growth mindset is about learning from your mistakes, failing, and persevering. By changing the definition, significance, and impact of failure, you change the deepest meaning of effort. Goal setting and practice are also a big part of having a growth mindset. It’s hard to set goals, practice and have success if you are not organized. Especially at an age when you are distracted by so many other things going on physically and emotionally.
I’m reiterating here how important an organized binder is and utilizing a calendar that your student is responsible for. ALL of your student’s commitments go into the planner. People have different philosophies of online vs. written planners, but I am a firm believer in the written planner. Writing things down commits things in your brain differently than typing them into a calendar. The minute a test, quiz or any project gets assigned the date goes into the calendar and your student can work backwards to figure out how much she needs to study, she is able to visually see all of her other commitments and know what is expected. In addition, volleyball practice, flute lessons, birthday parties, and games should go in there as well. For example, knowing you have a math test two days after Halloween might make you adjust your study plan, but it is way more effective to see this all visually rather than have mom (cough cough) or your teacher remind you.
I know first hand how hard it can be to work with your own kids on these skills, we’re here to help and make your student enjoy school, perform better and have more time for play, sleep and downtime!