Are you an educational hoarder or think you might know one? If so, I've pulled together 5 tried and true tips to help you declutter your classroom.
First of all, how do you KNOW if you are an educational hoarder?
An educational hoarder is an educator who does not discard items in the classroom because of a perceived attachment.
You might be an educational hoarder if:
- You no longer have wall space to hang student work.
- You have a collection of childrens' songs like The Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider on VHS tapes.
- The collectables on your desk date back five or more years.
- You own a new box of chalk that has never been used.
- There is no more room in your filing cabinet.
1. Store student exemplars digitally.
What can you take pictures of and keep digitally? As you know, every few years a student comes along who gives 110% to each assignment. If you feel like you can't part with student-made exemplars, I recommend taking a picture or scan the project and store on your computer/or a flash drive. It will be saved for years to come.
2. Discard unusable supplies.
Glue sticks are a necessary evil. Every teacher at some point will use them. However, glue sticks are one of the first supplies to go bad. The caps are left off or a student mashes down far too hard and flattens the top. Markers are another item with a short shelf life. If you aren't sure about throwing an item away, take the art teacher litmus test: Would the art teacher want your item? If not...let it go!
3. Use it or lose it.
If you have construction paper in your storage closet two feet high, donate it or use it. As much as I love technology, paper activities can be awesome! Google search Headline Poetry or Found Poems for some ideas. Don't forget to take pictures and store digitally if you want to use as an exemplar for future classes.
Note: Construction paper projects are a good opportunity to find the glue sticks and markers that need to be tossed.
4. Get a Second Opinion
- take the time and go through each piece of paper;
- shred papers with any student information or turn into the counselors;
- recyle papers that are crammed into your file cabinet you no longer use; and
- create a digital copy and/or keep ONE copy and recyle the others.
5, Let it Go!
Maybe it's time to give your classroom a makeover and/or modernize. The wooden teacher apple that says "super teacher" is most likely outdated. You (and others) know you are a super teacher. Let it go. Little collections that have grown...and grown,,,and grown need to be thinned out. You can take these keepsakes home with you.
I know this can be overwhelming! There is nothing wrong with being emotionally attached to student work or collectables, but it is time to cut the umbilical cord. It's time to let it go!
- How can decluttering teacher classrooms support a student-centered learning environment?
- Where are other places in the classroom that could benefit from decluttering? (i.e. computer desktops, bulletin boards)
- Are there items to be kept in place? (i.e. social studies memorabilia, science artifacts). How do these items enrich learning?
- What are some ways to support educators who are educational hoarders and keep your relationship intact?