After a looooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggg winter, what does your room look like? If it is like mine was, does it have the accumulation of several projects, your student’s possessions that they just never seem to pick up/take home or does it look like somebody took a grenade and let it go off in your room?
Then it is time for Spring Cleaning!
Yep it is that time again, time to take the time to clean-up, neaten-up and get ready for the stretch run. Have you actually taken a look at your room?
- What don’t you like?
- What can you change?
- What things can you make it better for you or your students who share your room?
The first thing that I found was that I simply had to much stuff in my classroom to contend with. I realized that I was trying to pack 10 pounds of “stuff” into a 5 pound bag.
After reading Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less” a couple of years ago, I have become a pretty big believer in a more minimalist approach to what I keep around at home and at work. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to using what I had learned from Leo’s book in my classroom, until recently.
So what can you get rid of – in your classroom?
If you are like me you have stuff left over from your predecessor and the two previous occupants of the room before we moved in. Their “stuff” is still in file cabinets, lockers, closets or other places you tend to stash/hide things. You sort of feel it is not your property, so you can’t really get rid of it. Recently, I have taken a different perspective – they left it, which means they didn’t want it, therefore it has become mine by right of eminent domain. In other words I can do whatever I damn well please with stuff that is left over 6 months by previous occupants – I think that is very fair.
If you have been teaching for a while, you also have all those old lesson plans, copies of worksheets or seminar and professional development notes/handouts – that were so great when you wrote them 10-20 years ago or got them, but are now either obsolete or just trash. In your heart you know that you will never use them again, but letting go of all that work you did is soooooooooooooooo hard.
Remember those books on your bookcase, from courses or that you bought at a book sale/yard sale or another teacher gave you, way back when. You know the ones that you have never cracked the cover since you completed the course or got the book. Yet you have it “just in case” on your bookshelf taking up space.
What to do?
Why not take 1-2 nights right after school next week and take everything out of your hiding places or bookshelves to see what is actually there and what you really want to keep. Scan or digitize stuff that you can (that is where enlisting a helper really works), which saves a lot of space and is actually more accessible, especially if you relocate it to something like Evernote.
When you are done throwing away “stuff” you know is trash, you are left with the “stuff” you are not sure about. Things you are pretty sure you will never use, but are too nice to throw out, why not offer them to a co-worker or put them in the teacher lounge as first come, first serve items (let them have more “stuff” to worry about).
I started doing this back in March and got rid of the equivalent of a full file cabinet of old papers, lesson plans and accumulated junk. There were so many old textbooks or workbooks that we no longer use just taking up space and lots of extra pieces of this or that went to the teacher’s room with the “free for taking” sign on them.
The hard part is
You have to be merciless and ruthless when going through all of this “stuff”. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to go through all the time and effort if you only get rid of a couple of things – this is supposed to be major Spring Cleaning event in your classroom – you might need to enlist the help of another teacher, your teaching assistant or even a student or two, who will not be as emotionally attached to some of the items as you are.
If find something that you just can’t bear to part with, make a next year’s Spring Cleaning area and if you haven’t touched it since this year, you will know that you can probably get rid of it then.
The reality is that
all this extra stuff that we have in our rooms, are all things that we collect or pack rat away for that time we are going to need them. Yet in reality, 90% of that “stuff” just sits around taking up space and makes it harder to find the “stuff” you really need to be able to find.
What have you accomplished?
When you are done you have accomplished at least three things:
- Your room is not as cluttered (I do not believe having a cluttered room is a sign of a genius at work, no matter how much you may want to believe it) and is more inviting to come into than it was.
- You know what is in your classroom, where it is and there is a lot less “stuff to take care of.
- If you do this now, when the end of school comes, what you have to take home or pack away becomes much less and your transition to summertime mode is much less stressful and done more quickly.
So what are you waiting for, it is time for your classroom’s