Starting a New Semester: Getting the Classroom Organized
Every January 1st, millions of Americans make resolutions that boil down to one thing: to be, somehow, better in the new year. While the top slots for most popular resolutions consistently go to fitness and weight loss, getting organized almost always makes the top ten. Most resolutions fail within a few weeks for the same reasons: people want to change a behavior without really changing the way they think. While we can’t do much about those 10 extra pounds, we’re here to help with every teacher’s top resolution, de-cluttering the classroom, by giving you a new perspective on all that “stuff.”
Critically Evaluate Your Supply Levels
Chances are, you’re hanging on to unnecessary supplies “just in case.” You know that the supply budget is tight and classroom materials can be hard to come by, so you’re afraid that as soon as you get rid of something, you’ll find that you need it. First you’ll need to banish that fear. As you sort through your stash, don’t try to imagine a scenario in which you’ll need each item. Instead, evaluate whether you’ve used the item in the last two years and, looking ahead to the end of the current school year, whether you’ll need it for a lesson that you’ve already planned.
Some questions you might ask yourself:
- Do I have excess supplies I haven’t used?
- Is there a plan/purpose for every item in my classroom?
- Are there any ways I could be using my storage space more efficiently?
- Are there any creative projects I have been putting off that these supplies could be used for?
Give Your Unwanted Stuff a New Life
One way to move past your fear of letting go of clutter is to organize a barter system. Set up a time to swap unneeded supplies with other teachers. You could even set up a group on social media. Not only will you minimize the piles of stuff collecting dust in the cabinet, you may also be able to trade for things you’ll actually use.
Other questions you might ask yourself:
- Are there other teachers in my school who could use these supplies?
- Could I donate any supplies to a school or community center in need?
Make Your Space Easier to Maintain
It’s easier to stick with a new system when maintaining it is painless. Create an organization system that makes sense to you and makes putting things away as easy as finding them. For example, keep things clearly marked and at eye level as much as possible. Bonus tip: With today’s technology, there’s no reason to have tons of paper documents lying around. Use a scanner to convert paper files into electronic ones. Not only does it take up infinitely less space, it’s much easier to search and sort.
Consider these questions when organizing:
- Do I have any decorations/clutter that add stress to the surfaces of my room?
- Could I consolidate papers/supplies to make cleanup simpler?