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Summer Clearance For Teachers
Piles of photocopies. Stacks of file folders. Pile of PD documents. Boxes and bins full of project scraps. You are so ready for the holidays, but you are so surrounded and drowned in the mess. The secretary is waiting for your keys and the principal wants to cross you off the list.
Make a crazy jump for the door? Close your eyes and click your heels three times? Lock the door and throw away the key?
That’s what I felt every time summer came.
All year, every year, I was just too busy planning and teaching meaningful lessons with little time for cleanup. Instead? Pile up!
Believe me, I know the clutter. My daughter called me “The Pack Rat Queen!”
Well you never know I might need it! It was my motto. But with age comes wisdom. (not to mention many, many things) I found out the hard way that all that clutter was not just a symptom, but a preventable cause of stress. Reality finally came last summer when I was faced with retirement and had to pack up my office. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but my office had spilled over into three “auxiliary rooms” in which I had parked thirty years of accumulated treasure. Eeek!
I’m serious. So, you know, I had to be realistic and come up with a plan. And here it is. I will share it with you in 4 easy steps and explain each step.
Linda’s 4 Easy Steps to Clearing Classroom Clutter
1. Clear everything from the cluttered place.
3. Return essential items.
4. Sort and dispose of scrap.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? How will this work? When you look at your cluttered room, are you overwhelmed and thinking, “Where do I start? What do I clean first? Well, start simple, small and central. Start with your office. Here’s how the four steps work.
Step 1 Clear everything from the cluttered place.
Ok, clear a space on a table somewhere. (You may need to push everything to the floor to clean a table top. That’s fine.) Move the table next to the area you’re going to clean. Now you just have to empty everything on top of the table, one drawer at a time. Some people like to sort as they go, others prefer the throw away method. When all the drawers are empty, smile.
Step 2 Plan
Now you have a pretty clear idea of what kind of things you need to sort and what kind of space you need to store them in. So you sit down and plan. Where are you going to put everything? Keep in mind how and where you will use the items you decide to keep. If you’re designing a new organizing plan, you may want to put up labels or tape to mark the areas to be sorted until you get used to the new plan. Tip for closets and desks: leave an empty drawer or box to catch up with any misplaced items to file. It’s a bit like the garbage drawer in the kitchen. Do this with the thought that next year you’ll be going through that tote container once a month or once a week and putting things away! If you think this is an out-of-reach expectation for you, label the box “student helping” and assign a student to help you with this task.
Step 3 Return the must-have essentials.
Go through your stack and select the must-have items. This is the hardest part, so here are three questions your article must answer to be picked up.
o Have I used this item this year?
o Will I use this item next year?
o What will I use this item for? (If you can’t be specific, that doesn’t skip the question.)
Step 4 Sort and dispose of scrap.
The first step of sorting is easy. There will be many objects standing straight up shouting “Trash me!” Honor this request. The second step then becomes sorting into piles of gifts. Some items will automatically remind a specific person who could really use it. Start their stack. Go article by article. You will find more items headed to the Trash. Dark! You can neatly display the rest of the gifts in the hallway outside your door on a table or in boxes on the floor. Post a “FREE, help yourself” sign. Sometimes students will want to browse these piles and collect treasures to take home. You can even give away many items as year-end prizes. Other teachers will also find you irresistible free articles. After a given period of time, whatever remains must disappear. This means in the trash if nowhere else.
Remember, the idea is to get rid of those rejections.
If you follow this plan and clean your room one area at a time, you will soon have a clutter-free room. You will feel fantastic. You can take your vacation knowing you’ll return to a neat, organized orderly room for a functional year of teaching and learning.
Thank you for reading this newsletter. Hope this helps declutter your classroom. Please pass it on to your friends who will also find it useful.
Stay tuned for the next weekly issue of Teaching Tips to Try.
I have a bit of a mess myself calling me!
Your math coach,
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