Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Checklist Manifesto

Ever had a student who is an organizational nightmare?

If your life is like mine, you probably have one or two kids every year that could make you pull your hair out. It is especially difficult when organizational inabilities start to affect learning.

I have a student this year who struggles this way. He forgets his homework at home after he dutifully finishes it. He forgets it at school now and then and then cannot do it. He forgets what his assignments are. He was frustrated, and I was too.

Finally, I had a brain wave. I read a book last summer called The Checklist Manifesto. I decided to implement some of the principles from that book. I had him make a list of things that he needs to have in his binder each day. He put more things on the list than I would have, but I figured it was important that it be HIS list. I also added a few things to help him keep his desk organized: put away all dull pencils, get two sharp pencils for tomorrow, and get rid of all loose papers in his desk. I typed up the list and coped them ten times over. At the end of each day we tape the list in his agenda and go through it together. The first day it took quite a lot of time. He gets faster at it each day. Hopefully, in time, he will look after the list independently. For now, we go over the list in great detail together, every day.

The most interesting thing, to me, was to see how excited he was about it the first day. He kept saying to me that he felt so great, so confident! He said he was so happy that he knew that when he went home no one was going to get mad at him. He knew he had everything he needed.

It made me wonder how often he has left school with a sense of dread, wondering and even worrying whether or not he was on track, or if he was going to get in trouble again. It felt really great to find such a simple tool to give him such confidence.

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