I clean out a lot of backpacks. One of the first things I do with new clients is to sit down on their bedroom floor and dump out all of their notebooks, papers, half-eaten pencils and papers (one time there was a bagel that was so green and hard it should have been biochemical waste).
I have noticed a few patterns in what I find in a backpack, here is my key:
1. Pocket Packer
Have you ever noticed that some kids shove every single paper into the inner pockets of their notebooks and never once hole punch or file anything away? Unlike, what you might think, pocket packers are actually not the least organized or most lazy. In fact they usually desperately want to be organized but have no idea how to.
“Why do you need four calculators?” Hoarders tend to have the most emotional time emptying out their backpack and insist on keeping pens that don’t work (because they are pretty), 2 calculators (just in case) and 4 reams of lined paper. Hoarders are actually organized…in a sense. They hae their own systems and even though their backpack doesn’t seem organized, I can ask them where something is and they always know. Hoarders should never be (but often are) underestimated for their passion and intelligence.
3. Museum Matron
You know how people say that they walk into a house and it is so sterile it feels like a museum. Occasionally I run across a museum matron (I do not have a lot of these clients, because there is nothing to organize!). MM’s tend to have perfect handwriting, everything is labeled and there is not so much as a hole punched dot at the bottom of the bag
Lots of girls are now just taking totes or messenger bags to school. I do not particularly like this because I never feel like there is enough room and it hurts your back. Yet, these people tend to appreciate being organized and will be organized if it looks good. Their organization stretches to areas that other people see (no moldy food, not lots of loose papers and will be organized enough to combine three notebooks into one to carry less).
5. Backpack + Babies
Opposite of a non-backpacker. Some students start middle school with one backpack and as the years progress, it seems, their backpacks have babies—an extra purse, a messenger bag, an athletic bag. These students tend to have lots of extra activities and stay organized just enough to get by. They are usually constantly overwhelmed, overtired and overworked.
Have you noticed any patterns about your student?