Organizing Theory & Artistry

Ruly Recap and Reader Feedback: Organizing for School

"Schoolchildren at Greenhills, Ohio" (1938). Photo by John Vachon for the U.S. Farm Security Administration. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This month at Ruly we have been discussing organizational strategies for the school/learning environment. Below is a quick recap of this month’s articles, reader comments and relevant news stories.

This month’s articles pointed out that there are two aspects to learning success. The first critical skill is the basic nuts and bolts of having binders and calendars and other physical organizing tools to track key information. The other critical skill is to take a step back and understand your learning style, your strengths and weaknesses, and position yourself for maximum success.

Positioning for Success

Lou commented:

“Some professors, you noted, need to ‘hide the main points as obscurely as possible.’ As a young college student, I thought this was a sign of their brilliance and my ignorance. As a graduate student, I felt the professors were somewhat lazy and had not taken time for thoughtful presentation.

One of my mentors in graduate school told me, ‘The grade you get on your work often tells you more about where the professor is coming from, than what you may have learned.’ That advice helped me turn my “B” work into some of my best learning!


Author Ana Homayoun recently Tweeted an article in which she is quoted titled “No. 1 Back-to-School Rule: Get Organized.” How true!

  • Ruly Bookshelf: The Shut-Down Learner (a professional psychologist’s view that quite a few discouraged or underperforming learners in our public schools might actually be manifesting visual-spatial dominant thinking and weaknesses in language skills). I received several behind-the-scenes comments that this book struck a chord with people who saw themselves or loved ones.

Ruth commented:

“I don’t know the answer—but in our society the bottom line is if you communicate well–and that means verbal and written–you get hired more often, you make more money, and you have a much better chance at being successful even than someone who may inherently know the subject better but can’t communicate. . . .”

I was surprised to see an article recently on NPR titled: “Think You’re An Auditory Or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It’s Unlikely” indicating that typing people as categories of learners is not appropriate or effective to boost learning. The article indicates that we are better off looking for similarities in learning styles than teaching differently for different styles.

School Organizing Materials and Techniques

IKEA enthusiast Mary thoughtfully commented:

“[R]eceiving the IKEA catalog is a bit like Christmas morning for me! With three people, two home offices, and our array of hobbies and interests in 900 square feet, creative storage is a MUST!!!!! . . . The only thing that makes me laugh is when I actually put “real” items in the cases, they are never as zen and uniform looking as the catalog. . . . I *LOVE* IKEA, but have to remember to be realistic about the end outcome… catalog world and real world are NOT the same!”

Social Commentary

Ruly Ruth shared wisdom from years of school volunteering emphasizing the need for school volunteers and the easiest ways to get involved.

Volunteer diadia commented:

“. . . Every parent helps and often artistic teens thrive on their parents’ underwriting”

Amy commented:

“[O]ne big assist to teachers is just to read with students one on one or small group…that is always a need…and math tutor, too…and definitely a male in the process…so many children without fathers in the home and the male presence always gives a certain feeling of security for the children.”

Sue Shellenbarger wrote a fascinating article for the Wall Street Journal’s The Juggle blog, noting:

“While volunteering used to be just a nice way to get to know your child’s teacher and classroom, now it has become a lot more – the last line of defense against a decline in the quality of education.”

–Sue Shellenbarger, “Needed: Parent Volunteers in Schools,” The Juggle Blog, August 31, 2011.

Other Posts

Finally, in light of the recent earth events occurring on the east coast of the United States, I posted some Hurricane Irene Preparation Tips. I am thankful to report that Irene passed by our house with relatively little impact. We will have more to say about Irene next month. Check back tomorrow to find out how Irene fits into September’s organizing theme.

Thank you for your readership and comments this month! If you have input for future topics related to school organization, please share in the comments.