Alexander Russo writes in his excellent blog for education administrators, Scholastic's This Week In Education, about Atul Gawande, a Harvard Medical School surgeon and New Yorker magazine contributor, and his new and very interesting book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. In the book, Gawande presents an argument for the effectiveness of the use of simple checklists in surgery, medicine and elsewhere in life, in order to mitigate the human predisposition to the occasional error. Russo asks us to consider why checklists have not yet been widely adopted as a best practice in education, from a teaching and administrative perspective, which is a good question.
This got us thinking about how important the regular use of checklists can be to help all students, and especially those who struggle with organization, attention, and materials management, among other types of difficulties.
Checklists can be extremely effective in helping students prepare for tests, book reports, and class projects. They can also be helpful in driving students to adopt a stepwise approach to the completion of complex tasks, which we know to be an effective strategy for success.
The next time you are helping a student get organized or prepare for an exam -- or even just the next time you ask if homework is done or when a book report is due -- consider helping them devise simple checklists to ensure everything gets done right.