Dive right into the quick 10 minute video here…
Seth’s Student Success Toolkit (SSST)
Summary (if you prefer to read it)
Today I’m going to teach you exactly how and why I teach students to do a “backpack overhaul,” which is a complete reorganization of the backpack. We deal with everything from gum wrappers to binders and everything in between.
How long it takes
Less than an hour the first time, less than 15 minutes once a week after that.
I teach ALL of my students to do this, elementary through graduate school.
About the students
I always say that my students are “overhaulers,” not “maintainers.” They tend to do occasional overhauls, but aren’t the type who naturally maintain systems on a regular basis. In other words, they tend to be disorganized. They’re the classic start-a-million-projects-but-finish-none type of people. Once in a while they overhaul their bedroom, rearrange it, make it awesome. A couple days later it may be mayhem again, and it may be that way for another year.
As far as backpacks are concerned, my students have a knack for losing the most important papers in the bowels of the backpack. Papers get compressed into bizarre shapes as the ink fades into the abyss. Sometimes the backpack appears organized, but sometimes it looks like a volcanic explosion. Either way, when it comes to having an effective system for managing the minutiae, their system isn’t cutting it.
How to do the backpack overhaul
- I start by telling them we are going to do a backpack overhaul, that we will go through every single thing, even gum wrappers, and get the backpack reorganized.
- I always ask if there is anything personal that they don’t want me to see, and I let them get rid of it before we start.
- We find a big area, a huge table or an open floor space.
- We grab a recycle can, a trash can, a box labeled “archive”.
- Now we pull every single thing out of every single pocket on the backpack. Consequently, I like the simple 2 pocket backpacks, not the 100 pocket backpacks that things get lost in the most. Either way, empty it out, shake the remaining debris outside if necessary.
- We mindfully go through every single thing in the backpack, discussing the item’s relevance. I ask what it is, where it’s “home” should be, if it should be kept, recycled or archived, etc.. If it has not been turned in, we deal with it on a case by case basis. It’s like doing a system reset on a phone. By the end of the overhaul, I want the student to be able to tell me how their systems work and where everything goes. Basically, we update the planner, folders, papers, supplies, books and personal items (such as money and school ID).
Now that the initial massive overhaul is done, I do a quick overhaul with clients every week for several weeks. As they get better at managing things, we can back off to every 2 or 3 weeks. I keep this up for the rest of the school year because even when these kids say that everything is in place, inevitably, we end up finding things that were misplaced. They say things like, “oh yeah, I forgot about that. I was wondering where that was.” It never fails. These kids aren’t usually being “dishonest,” they just tend to have an unrealistic perception about things. Don’t worry, as the brain matures, and as they go through a reflective process like this over and over, it slowly gets more realistic.
1. Take an hour this week to do a complete overhaul. Invite an organized friend or relative to help.
2. Plan future overhauls in your planner.