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Organizing the Notebooks

Class was over. The students were leaving the room. I had been standing by the door. So I was walking the other way. 

One of the students was standing at the baskets containing their composition notebooks. She was muttering under her breath, which didn’t register with me at first, but then I looked at the baskets.

Now, I must tell you something about these baskets. They are old metal wire locker room baskets that the Fair and Industrious Trudy scrounged from somewhere. And they are large enough to hold the notebooks we use for notes and glueable and foldable inserts. But they are small enough that when the students leave quickly (which they always do), the notebooks end up in a disorganized heap, flowing over the top of the baskets. At the end of the day, I need to reorganized those six baskets so that the notebooks will be neatly arrayed for each period the next day.

On this day, that student who was muttering as she stood by the baskets evidently had had enough of the disorganized heap. She didn’t say anything to me, and I almost didn’t notice it. The notebooks in the Period 2 basket were not in the usual disorganized heap. They were neatly arrayed, ready for the next day.

I turned and looked at her as she made her way to the door. 

“Did you organize the notebooks!?” I asked in disbelief.

“The mess drives me crazy.”

Me, too. Organizing the baskets can take… a couple minutes.

As a new teacher I have discovered this: in the aggregate, minutes that slip away are precious. Saving a few here and there repeatedly throughout the day is one of the attributes of an efficient teacher. I am not adept at this. This student saved me one minute that I could devote to grading papers.

“That’s awesome. Thanks!” I said as she walked out into the hall.