Organizing a New Semester


Cassidy Shaffer, Staff Writer

Now that we’re halfway through the year, things can become disorganized and less functional. Usually, things are in their place at the beginning of a school year for students and staff. The papers are in alphabetical order, the binders are on the shelves, and the chromebooks are in the correct carts and plugged in. Things start to get a little scattered for the second quarter, but they’re still manageable. When we come back from winter break, that’s when everything breaks loose. Papers are just thrown wherever there is a blank area, the cords for the chrome book carts are knotted together, and random computers are found in random classrooms.

Organization can be one of the biggest reasons school and work can be stressful, but it can also help you concentrate on what you need to do daily.

Kevin Lancaster, Imagine Prep science teacher, shared how he stays organized throughout the school year.

“I mostly stay organized by assigning work on Schoology for the students,” Lancaster said. “I also write tons of sticky notes so I can remind myself once in a while of what I need to do.”

Schoology has been very beneficial for many teachers in the past year; it has helped teachers assign work more accessible and for students to complete the work right away. Schoology can also help students view the grade almost right after completing the assignment.

“I haven’t seen a difference in my organizational pattern after winter break,” Lancaster said. “I pretty much do everything the same way because it helps me best.”

It can be challenging to switch to a different organization style after a two-week break because it is something that you’re not used to.

“When things start to fall out of order in my classroom, I usually work in the evenings after school and on the weekends,” Lancaster said. “I continue working outside of school until I get back to my regular organizational pattern.”

Working at home can be a pain, but when things fall out of order, it can be stressful for the students trying to get their work turned in and for Lancaster not to keep up with the dates.   

“If you’re trying to be organized, I think technology is your greatest ally,” Lancaster said. “Especially for young people, it can be easy to figure out. You can use technology to set reminders, alarms and send messages to people to help remind you of daily tasks.”

Technology has developed schools in many ways, such as Schoology, and has made it easier for the students and staff to complete work. 

“Sometimes I can get disorganized in grading student’s work,” Lancaster said. “I sometimes mix up the papers on what I want to pass back and not pass back and the order of grading each individual’s papers.”

Most, if not all, teachers mainly struggle with grading and passing back students’ work. It can be a struggle to keep up with the papers when they are stacking up, but Lancaster mentioned that Schoology and his sticky notes have helped him maintain his organization.

Lancaster plans to stay organized and resourceful for the rest of the school year. 

“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I am happy with my process; I will sometimes ask and listen to other teachers’ organizational patterns and what helps them be successful, and I am always open to suggestions or make changes,” Lancaster said. “But I am happy with what I am doing right now, and it seems to work best for me.”

Melody Jackson-Chatman, a junior at Imagine Prep, shared how she stays organized for the year and plans to continue. 

“I just make a mental note to remind me what I am supposed to do,” Jackson-Chatman said. “I’m a pretty responsible person, so I mostly get my work done within a day of it being assigned. I also do my work while I’m at school so that I can relax at home.”

Many students prefer to do their homework at school to have free time when they go home and can focus on other things. 

“I have a folder for each class and have it organized for each period, so everything is in order,” Jackson-Chatman said. “I mostly do my work at lunch so that I am prepared for the next period and don’t have to stress about it when I get home.”

When specific folders and binders are organized for a class, it’s not easy to mess that up. So Jackson-Chatman already has everything prepared for the rest of the year.

“After winter break, my organizational pattern mostly stays the same,” Jackson-Chatman said. “At the beginning of the year, it is easy to navigate where my work is because I assign colors to each class period. So that doesn’t change after winter break.”

Some people use winter break to change their organizational patterns completely. Jackson-Chatman hasn’t changed her pattern because this way seems to work best for her.

“When I become disorganized, I kind of assess the situation and take the work on little by little,” Jackson-Chatman said. “I try to sort out the classes one by one so that I’m not piling work up all at once.”

It’s stressful to have a pile of work waiting to be completed. This can lack the motivation to complete any tasks that need to be done. The organization is one way to live stress-free.

“I recommend not to flood yourself with work. Do your work when it needs to be done; binders, folders, and notebooks can help sort out certain work,” Jackson-Chatman said. “I usually set reminders on the calendar app on my phone to help me set time frames and dates to complete assignments and get certain tasks done. Don’t forget to pace yourself, so you don’t overwork yourself.”

Many people agree that technology is the most incredible support for the organization to help with reminders and overall time management. 

“Sometimes my paperwork can get mixed up and out of place,” Jackson-Chatman said. “I sometimes struggle when I have so much paperwork because it can be difficult to sort each paper into multiple different folders.”

A large amount of paperwork can be intimidating, so it can be challenging to organize all at once; it is better to pace yourself and do one class at a time.

Jackson-Chatman plans to keep the same organizational pattern for the rest of the year.

“I will keep doing what I am doing because it seems to work best for me,” Jackson-Chatman said. “I will stop doing work at lunch, though, because it cuts out my eating time, and that’s the only time that I have to talk to my friends. I can just do the work when I have extra time in class or at home.”

Organization can be one of the hardest things to maintain over time. Sometimes winter break can significantly impact people’s organization, and other times, people decide to keep the flow the same because it works best for them. There are many ways to stay organized and have a clean backpack; it is now time to put in the effort and start sorting things together.