Declutter Your Classroom, Declutter Your Life
As winter is clearing away and the heavy cover of darkness lifts, it's time to start doing a little "spring cleaning".
Taking the time to evaluate what is needed and what isn't is a great way to clear physical space as well as mental space as the school year is drawing to a close.
As educators, we tend to carry around the many resources and tools necessary to make learning possible but at what point is it appropriate to start purging those seemingly important materials?
Taking the time to declutter a classroom, file cabinets, and online spaces can offer a great opportunity to reconsider what is needed and what is not and provide ample time to let stuff go.
It's amazing how physical space can often be linked to our inability to just empty our minds of useless baggage and refresh to end strong.
Here are some tips for cleaning out the old:
Get rid of all papers or bulletins that are past use. Weekly calendars from December are no longer needed. Go through the stacks on your desk or shelves and just start throwing away anything that isn't necessary. If something is important, either take a picture of it or jot down the necessary information into a notebook and discard the physical paper
Go through old files both on the computer (Google drive or old emails) and in a file cabinet. If you haven't used or looked at what is in the folder for more than a year, it is likely you won't need it again in the future. Plus with everything being digital now, it's easy enough to relocate any old resources online. If you have physical materials that you no longer use, you can also donate them to your school's teacher center or resource receptacle.
While going through electronic files, make sure all documents are labeled appropriately and consider a folder system to keep it all organized.
Student work is often hard to get rid of, but work that outdates students who have long since graduated is not serving a purpose anymore. Ask yourself, why is this important and see if you can't replace it with a newer model. Take pictures and store them electronically if it isn't outdated.
Have older books for subjects you used to teach but no longer do? Why not donate those books if they aren't outdated to a colleague or a library? This way they can still be useful somewhere. This can also be good for DVDs or audio books.
Make sure to dust the shelves as you get rid of stuff as they are likely very dirty if you haven't been keeping up all year.
Although it may seem hard to let go of old lesson plan books or materials, in order to keep ourselves fresh, no matter how many years we have been teaching a subject, we should always take the time to rethink the way we teach for this year's students.
As we improve our practice, so too should our ideas for classroom learning grow and our plans should be updated accordingly.
What do you have the hardest time getting rid of and why? Please share
This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher in April 2016