Don’t wait until the end of the school year to declutter. A couple weeks before the end of last school year, my principal dropped by my classroom and announced that Spanish classes were moving different wing of the building. And, he announced, it would be my responsibility to sort and box district-Nov 28, 2017
Don’t wait until the end of the school year to declutter.
A couple weeks before the end of last school year, my principal dropped by my classroom and announced that Spanish classes were moving different wing of the building.
And, he announced, it would be my responsibility to sort and box district-owned books and materials — then remove everything else from the building.
The problem was not gathering up my own stuff. I was preparing to transfer to a new district and already had planned time to pack up my own things. But the classroom shelves and cabinets were also filled with 18 years’ worth of Spanish books, music discs, decorations, and handouts left by a predecessor who had taught in the room before I arrived.
Fortunately, my mentor teacher sprang into action immediately and packed up her materials and things she knew belonged to the school. After that, I enlisted the help of a kind nightly custodian. She helped me fill and haul out six industrial-sized trash bags of trash that ranged from old mimeograph sheets to faded posters and papel picado.
Clearly, I should have dug into the mess months before I found myself working overtime on an ad hoc disposal crew. Lesson learned: I now do my best to keep my stuff decluttered and in order throughout the school year.
It doesn’t take a decade to amass a warehouse full of good ol’ stuff. Feel my clutter pain? Here’s how to keep it under control.
Devote 30 Minutes Twice a Week to Decluttering
Don’t stress over piles of papers every day. But, do take time twice a week to sort the useful from the useless. Use file folders or plastic storage bins to stash things you will use again in the future. Angela Watson has some awesome strategies for avoiding the paper trap.
Other things to consider:
- Your electronic files — email inboxes, Google Drives, computer desktop. It’ll feel oh-so-good!
- Outdated student work. Give it its own place, replace with a new student piece, or take a picture of it!
- Old supplies. Have students test markers, highlighters, pens, etc. Dried up? Toss ‘em!
Do a Deep Clean Once or Twice a Year — and Get it on Your Calendar
Pull everything out of hiding and sort it into three piles: things to keep and store, things to donate, and things to toss.
Get rid of the trash immediately. If your students are old enough, they will love making trips to the outdoor bins for you. Involving them in the process also allows them to have ownership of their learning space, which creates a sense of community.
If you have surplus books or craft supplies, consider donating them to a teacher-support organization like Treasures for Teachers in Tempe.
Opt for see-through plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes to store things you want to keep. You can’t see through cardboard — and pests can be attracted to it. In fact, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is a big advocate of decluttering, cleaning, and proper storage of classroom items. Pests ranging from rodents to brown recluse spiders are known to lodge in classroom clutter … no thanks!
Encourage Students to Declutter Too
We’ve all had them: the students who can’t find homework because their backpacks and binders are stuffed with unnecessary papers. Good habits start early! Take time to help them sort what they need from what should go in the trash — it will help them establish organization habits from the start.