“A team of freshman teachers, especially in the last couple of months, noticed that there are a lot of students missing work,” science teacher Marna Chamberlain said. “This was a shift. Missing work is always a problem, but I have never seen a shift.”
Many freshman classes are implementing a new binder system in order to aid students in their organizational skills. According to the “Binder and Organization Requirements” sheet the students were given, “in the short run, getting organized can feel like a burden, but in the long run it is worth it many times over.”
The students are to obtain a single large binder in which they will store all of their subjects to ease the hardship of managing multiple binders.
“We are asking people to be flexible and try this with us as a group,” Chamberlain said. “We are encouraging [one big binder]. We aren’t making them do it uniformly; each class would still be organizing it their own way.”
Classes will have binder checks in order to make sure they keep up their organization. Chamberlain’s checks will be formatted more like timed quizzes where she will give students a minute or so to find a specific worksheet. This will earn them points for the day.
“It’s like free points for being organized, so if you’re that kid who already is organized, it’s just a plus,” Chamberlain said. “For that kid who’s maybe not as organized, it might be a help. I’m more than happy to help them.”
Freshman Cate Selna, most of whose teachers have implemented this new system, does not understand why everyone must conform to it.
“I am already organized,” Selna said. “Ultimately, it’s [the individual student’s] fault if they’re unorganized.”
Freshman Katie St. Claire also finds the new method unreasonable; therefore, she chooses not to follow it.
“Having just one binder will make it more cluttered and unorganized,” St. Claire said. “If we have separate binders for each subject, it keeps things tidy and clean.”
On the other hand, freshman Josh Landheer thinks that the binder system is a good idea and likes that the teachers are trying to reach out to unorganized students like him.
“I can think of many times that I had a missing assignment and I knew that I had done it, but it was sitting in my binder where I hadn’t seen it before,” Landheer said.
Though he finds the binder initiative beneficial, Landheer is unsure of how long it will last.
“I think it will help kids, but I doubt teachers will keep up with it,” Landheer said. “I just think that teachers will kind of forget about it after a while. If kids do well with it and are staying organized, I think teachers will stop having the binder checks.”
Chamberlain has faith in the program, but realizes the possibility that it may not be effective.
“Obviously if it’s not going to work for people, we’ll know within a very short time,” Chamberlain said. “The whole point is to try to learn how to better serve.”
Last year on WASC, Chamberlain said many parents were disconcerted with the fact that the school has no program in which freshman could learn essential study skills and organization habits, so she came up with the idea of having a freshman teacher task force.
“[The force] is just an informal way of sitting down and seeing how freshmen are doing,” Chamberlain said. “[The binder system] is just one of the few concrete things that we’ve done.”
Chamberlain said the teachers decided they needed to do something about organization since it seems that students do their work, but do not turn it in on time because they cannot find it when it is due. Because of this, they often do not get full credit.
“I care about them,” Chamberlain said. “I want them to do the best that they can. So we’re trying to find a way to help them not have any missing work, so that they don’t have to worry about late work or catching up and things like that.”