Organizing for the School Year

Lisa Gardner's picture


When you read the student handbook or the class syllabus at your school, it usually says something along the lines of “come to class prepared.” This can mean anything from bringing an apple for the teacher to doing the homework the night before, but to be truly prepared for class requires organization. Here are some strategies on how to stay organized:


1. Keep Different Subjects in Different Places


It’s a pretty simple rule, but when everything gets mixed together, it becomes really easy to lose something or leave it at school (or home) when you need it. Depending on how you like to take notes and store homework, or how your teacher prefers it, you may want to buy a binder for each subject, or a notebook for one and binder for another. If given the choice, choose between mixing up your media because not only will it be easier to distinguish between subjects, but you also might be able to lighten your backpack.


2. Don’t Carry Around Useless Papers or Supplies


Most teachers will give you a list of the materials they would like you to bring to class, but unless they’re planning on checking your supplies, don’t get those materials unless you think they will help you keep organized. If a teacher asks you to get a folder, binder, and a notebook then it’s probably a little bit overkill. If you think a notebook with a pocket will cover it, then go for that instead.

Also, don’t bring papers and binders to school if you’re not going to use them; most classes work in units or chapters with a test at the end of each one. If you’re carrying around the 30 pages of notes you took for each unit, and you’re on unit 4, then you’ll never make it to unit 5. One of the best ways to stay organized is to keep a binder at home with all your old handouts that you need for midterms and finals, and bring a small folder or notebook to school.

On another note, after each chapter, clear out any worksheets that you consider to be “busy work,” or just too specific to include on a midterm or final. Usually, at least a third of the worksheets you’ve been given can be thrown out. This will leave more space for the next unit and it will let you buy a smaller binder.


3. Take Advantage of School or Teacher Resources; These May Include:


A. Lockers - this is a great way to lighten your load, especially if you carry your school books, instruments, and sports bags. Take advantage of it! If your locker is located near some of your classrooms, try stashing some books in it. Or, if it’s near the gym then you can leave your sports equipment there. If you don’t have a locker, but you’re carrying a lot of books, ask one of your teachers if you can leave your textbooks in their classrooms. Your classmates would probably be happy to do the same. Just make sure that the room is secure; you don’t want to have to pay a book fee at the end of the year.


B. Academic recovery periods - if your school offers time for you to meet with teachers, then USE IT! These periods can be so helpful for when you miss a class or test, and by coming in to talk to your teacher about it, you’ll show them that you care about their class. You can also use these periods if you didn’t understand what happened in class that day, or if you want to review for a test the next day. Even if you don’t need help, talk to the teacher and get to know them. When a teacher gets to know you, they’ll be more willing to help you in the future.


4. Look Ahead and Plan for Conflicts


This is SO important. Write down the dates for states and nationals. Do it now please. Plan for days when you know you’ll be out or when there’s a basketball game or a TSA meeting, so that you can get everything done. And although it’s pretty much impossible, to some extent you have to plan for the unexpected. If you finished your homework Monday night and decide you want to watch a movie, THINK about the test you have on Wednesday, THINK about the game that you heard some friends talking about on Tuesday night and STUDY. It basically boils down to do it now, or do it later and you don’t know what’s happening later. SO DO IT NOW!

If States is coming up and you haven’t told your teachers about it, be sure to do so. Technically, you are still doing a school activity, so you are still responsible for your work. And your teachers will appreciate it and you’ll appreciate it when you come back Monday morning with most of the work done.


5. Write Down your Homework, Now


Okay, not really now, but do it as soon as your teachers tell you because you will forget. And if there’s another place that you can find the homework online or on the board then check it before you write off homework. If your teachers grade homework, it is the easiest way to get better grades and get more practice, so you can be ready for the test. So document and do your homework!


6. Get Home and Do your Work


Procrastinating is probably the easiest thing to do. But all TSA students like a challenge, so do the hard stuff. You’ll feel better if you do it and you’ll have more free time and less stress later on. Just do it.


7. Find a System that Works for You


Some of the strategies I’ve mentioned may be right down your alley, and some of them might not be. The best way to be organized is to devise your own system. So don’t procrastinate, and do it now, so you’ll be set for the year.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at parliamentarian [at] ()<!--style="text-decoration:none;"-->. Have a great school year!