Focus Area: Organisational Skills

The following is an example of how one school improved the organisational skills of five 2nd year students :

  1. An examination by a Year Head of Conduct Sheets from 11 teachers of five 2nd Year students over a two week period revealed that most conflicts between the teachers and students begun at the start of class or shortly afterwards. The Year Head wanted to eliminate or reduce this constant conflict between the teachers and students, thereby assisting with better teaching and learning in each of the subject classes.
  2. The Year Head began by asking each of the teachers to complete the Learning Environmental Checklist . The Learning Environment Checklist (LEC) is a checklist for teachers covering a range of factors that may be influencing students’ behaviour including whole school policies, physical environment, classroom organisation and individual teaching and learning approaches and strategies. It is designed to help teachers identify the areas within the school environment where behaviour may be causing concern. The LEC is not focussed on individual students.
  3. Each teacher completed two sections of the LEC 1) Classroom Organisation and Management, and 2) Classroom Rules, Routines, Expectations, Rewards and Sanctions. An analysis of the sections by the teachers revealed inconsistent systems of classroom organisation and poor student personal organisation.
  4. Each teacher then completed the LEC Learning Environment Intervention Plan and a meeting of the teachers, Class Tutor and Year Head was held to discuss the findings. The Year Head also asked the Guidance Counsellor to attend. At the meeting it was decided to adopt a consistent system of classroom organisation across classes, plan for the explicit teaching of personal and classroom organisational skills to each student and organise a Check In, Check out system for each individual student on a daily basis for a period of three weeks. A consistent expectation and reward system was also developed for each student.
  5. It was also decided to ask each student to complete a My Work at School form (see Behaviour Support Classroom Best Practice Guidelines), before the work began to capture the views of the students. The teachers believed that this would help them to write relevant materials for the teaching of organisation skills and so maximise the chances of success. The Guidance Counsellor met the students individually to complete the student form and talk through any other difficulties relating to settling down in class. Relevant information was given to the Year Head and the Class Tutor gathered further information from the Learning Support Department. Many teachers were taken aback when they realised that three of the students had reading ages three or four years below their chronological ages, and one student had a reading age five years below their chronological age.
  6. The intervention was divided into three sections – class teaching, individual teaching and Check In Check Out. Each teacher explicitly taught the classroom and personal organisational skills to the students in the full class group. Three teachers volunteered to repeat the teaching of the skills on an individual basis to three of the students, the Class Tutor revised the skills with one of the students and the Learning Support teacher repeated the teaching of the skills to the student with the lowest reading age. This student also had poor comprehension skills. The Year Head and Career Guidance Teacher organised a Check In Check Out system for the students and all five students were met every morning and afternoon for a period of three weeks initially. This was later reduced to once a day for a further three weeks.
  7. The class teaching sessions were divided into the following four areas: 1) The top five benefits of getting organised, 2) How to be prepared for class with correct materials and journal, 3) How to arrive on time for class, and 4) How to stay organized during class.
  8. The individual teaching sessions repeated the lessons plans taught in class and gave each student the opportunity to discuss the ideas in each section and put a plan in place to carry out each action required for the plan to succeed.
  9. The daily Check In Check Out system allowed the students a further opportunity to follow through on the planned actions by praising them for each completed action and intervening when the actions were not working. This information was fed back to the relevant teachers for the individual teaching sessions and further revision of organisational skills took place in the smaller group and individual teacher sessions using a range of different teaching methodologies.
  10. Within two weeks there was a marked improvement in student/teacher conflicts. Teachers had clear classroom organisational systems in their classes which not only benefited the five students but also the entire class, the students were more organised and less stressed, and referrals to the Year Head had stopped because teachers now came to discuss any ongoing problems instead of just referring on the issues. This gave the Year Head and teachers a chance to adapt sections of the intervention to the needs of individual students.
  11. After four weeks each teacher completed the LEC Review of Learning Intervention Plan and each student repeated the My Work at School form. There was a marked improvement in the behaviour of the students and this greatly assisted the teaching and learning in each class.
  12. The intervention also resulted in an improvement in the teacher-student relationship between the five students and their teachers and this led to a general improvement in the overall learning and behaviour of the students in school.