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Disorganization Works for Him; Expectations on Students

March 8, 2011

Question: It is beyond belief how messy my child's backpack is. I have tried to give him organizing hints, but he just keeps shoving all his schoolwork in the bag -- even his neatly done homework. How can I help him get organized?

-- For Organization

Answer: Everyone has different standards of neatness. Some students have perfectly organized notebooks with every paper in the right place. Others like your son just jam paper after paper in their backpacks. Most students are probably somewhere in the middle.

If your son is doing well in school and seems to be able to find papers and other school materials without too much trouble, give up on trying to organize him. Disorganization is working for him, so he is not going to be committed to changing.

There is one thing that you can do to minimize the problem of the overstuffed backpack. Before he starts his homework each day, insist that he find the papers and books that he needs in the backpack and dump the rest into a specific bin or box in the house. In this way, he'll start each day with an empty backpack except for material being returned to school. This should satisfy your desire for him to have a neater backpack as well as make it much easier for him to find important papers.

When the box or bin is full, he can either sort through the papers and find those he wants to keep or simply throw everything out. You may wish to date a few and put them in a folder or album, as they will be a good record of how he is progressing in school.

Question: What are some of the expectations for academic success for today's students? Are teachers expecting enough from their students? What do teachers think are ways to increase student achievement? -- Concerned Parents

Answer: The questions that you asked can be answered because of the latest findings from the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher series released earlier this year. Some of the results were contradictory. You may be shocked to hear that ...

Most teachers (84 percent) believe they can enable all of their students to succeed academically, but only (36 percent) of teachers say that all of their students have the ability to succeed.

71 percent of high-school teachers say students in their school only do enough to get by.

64 percent of teachers and 69 percent of principals strongly believe that all students need education beyond high school to be prepared for work or a career.

Almost half of students say classmates in their school are promoted to the next grade level without being ready.

Only 53 percent of students feel strongly that all teachers in their school want them to succeed.

Most teachers (86 percent) believe high expectations for all students would have a major impact on achievement.

There is also strong agreement among teachers and principals that providing all students with core reading, writing and math skills; having adequate public funding and support for education; and strengthening ties among parents and schools would improve student achievement.

Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, in care of Mahoning Valley Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395, or log on to, or e-mail



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