Enhancing the organizational abilities of older students.

Middle and high school students can be empowered by educators to manage their growing responsibilities on their own.

There have undoubtedly been students who failed to arrive to class on time or who were consistently unprepared. These and other poor organizational skills are frustrating, but they do not indicate low intelligence or motivation. Organizational skills, like other executive functions like judgment, prioritizing, emotional self-management, and critical thinking, do not come naturally to students. However, you can assist your secondary students in acquiring skills that they may not have been able to acquire in their earlier years of education.

Enhancing the organizational abilities of older students.

Students’ organizational skills improve as a result of guided practice.

Teens’ brain development depends on explicit instruction and opportunities to practice using their executive functions. With greater success and less stress, students can use these stronger organizational skills to better manage their own schoolwork.

The following are some of the potential outcomes of these enhanced skills:

-Completing work on time and successfully, as well as efficiently achieving better results.

-Enhanced organization of their computer, desk files, backpacks, notebooks, and binders.

-Reduction in confusion.

Students are able to complete required work more effectively and accurately without being burdened by the stress of disorganization when they are able to keep track of their assignments, supplies, and what they need to bring to school.

To encourage students to organize successfully, particularly if they have experienced and been criticized for organizational failures, remind them of things they may have already organized, such as music on their playlists, the contacts on their friends’ social media, phones, or emails, or photos. They’ll realize that these skills can help them better manage their schoolwork as they think about those things.

Help students incorporate previous successes into future strategies.

Consider organizational structures that are a part of your students’ lives and experiences. The next step is to invite them to actively develop personal-relevant organizational skills.

Students can evaluate these ideas for their organizational practices:

-Textbooks. Divided into chapters, they select books that, in their opinion, exhibit good sequence and organization.

-The vacation and school schedule. Do vacation breaks encourage family travel planning or activity time? Would it be preferable to structure the year so that there are fewer weeks off during the summer and more frequent breaks of a week each year?

-Sports they may engage in Are the matches against a single opponent spread out throughout the season? Does this give a team that isn’t doing well at the start of the season enough time for its players to get better? Is there enough time off, especially after long travel days, so that players can get a full night’s sleep before playoff games and the finals?

-Systems for classifying plants and animals. The current classifications—kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species—such as what differentiates a plant from an animal or an amphibian from a reptile—are considered to be very effective by the majority of biologists. They find that the traits that distinguish the group members can be easily identified. What can students learn from these classifications to better organize their computer documents and files?


Help students understand that the organizational strategies they choose can make it easier for them to participate in activities they enjoy. They are rewarded by a successful organization with more free time.

It is essential to demonstrate those strategies and provide students with feedback on how they can be used by those students who have not yet had successful experiences and require assistance with time management.

Some examples include:

-Make computer files, note cards, or folders with color codes. These assist students in organizing the supplies they require for each class and project.

-Experiment creating master file folders. Students begin by examining the various types of information they have and creating folders labeled with the category names they choose in order to get organized for a project. Make it clear that the names of these categories and the items in each folder are only suggestions. They go through each category folder as the project or unit progresses, removing files that don’t fit in with the others and creating revised categories.

-Keep an expert rundown of every dynamic record. Use a computer or paper to help students improve their short-term organizational skills. They can get rid of things from each folder and the master list once a month that they no longer need.

-Encourage the use of graphic organizers and visuals. Most likely, your students are familiar with Venn diagrams, maps, or graphs. Demonstrate to them that the tools they had previously utilized were actually graphic organizers that displayed comparable data for pertinent comparisons.

In and out of the classroom, students also benefit from the guidance of trustworthy adults. Encourage them to think about a person they know who is organized. What does that individual do to maintain order?


Encourage students to reflect on their organizational thinking. This can help them realize their strengths, how to use them in different ways, and the challenges they want to change. As they become more independent learners, students maintain their motivation and put in more effort as they are guided to recognize their progress in achieving their goals and the strategies they used.

You can provide students with prompts for metacognition about organization that they can consider on their own and possibly share with the class, such as the following:

-What was the most efficient use of my time?
-What improvement stood out to me first?
-What did I attempt that I would repeat?
-What would I change the following time?

Secondary students could also keep a list of the strategies that worked for them and the ways in which they could use them in the future.

Teachers should also pay attention to reflection.

Take the time to appreciate the results of your efforts as you provide your students with guidance and practice opportunities to improve their organizational skills. In the beginning, you might observe increased student success in areas like staying on top of assignments, being prepared for classes, and finishing long-term projects on time. Take the time to acknowledge your contribution to their independence as learners and professionals through the organizational skills and strategies you helped them develop.


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