Seven Classroom Items to Get Rid of Today
Teachers are natural hoarders. We are always asking: What if I need this later? What if I decide to do this theme again? What if I have a student again that needs this exact intervention? What if one of my kids wants to read a book on this specific topic?
However, having visual and physical clutter makes it more difficult for teachers to teach and for students to learn. When we have a bunch of "stuff" around, our minds must spend time processing it, taking up mental space and energy that then can't be used for learning and concentrating. It's hard for us as adults to process this, but it's even harder for the little people we teach! They don't have as much practice weeding out stimulus that's irrelevant.
Ready to start removing those obstacles? Here's what you can throw away RIGHT NOW:
- Anything Broken- Let's be real. Is that clock that broke five years ago ever going to get fixed? What about that plastic drawer set with the bottom drawer that doesn't slide in and out properly? Just toss it! If you're not going to fix it TODAY, it's not going to happen. It's probably stayed broken because you don't need or use it. If you really end up needing it down the line, get a new, not broken, one then.
- Books that No One Reads- I know how hard it is to get rid of books. Maybe you want so badly for those kiddos to try the books you loved when you were their age. For me it was Pony Pals. I read pretty much every single one as a third grader, but I don't think I ever saw one student pick up any of the copies in my library. Maybe it's a great book, but the cover isn't very interesting. Print a new cover or buy a newer versions. As much as we don't want students to judge a book by its cover, they do, and we do too. If you wouldn't pick it up because it doesn't look interesting, neither will they. Put those books away for now, give them to someone you know will love them, or use them for a project such as blackout poetry or collages. Your students will be less overwhelmed and more motivated to read when there aren't shelves and shelves worth of options at a time.
- Extra Manipulatives- Chances are, you have boxes of manipulatives that you don't touch. Do you really need a thousand Unifix cubes? Keep a tower of 10 for each student. Do you use your giant box of wooden shapes? Give them to a younger grade teacher or use them for a steam activity. How many of those double-sided counters do you really need? Also keep in mind the style in which you teach. If you use guided math instruction and only work with one group at a time using manipulatives, you don't need a class set. Manipulatives are great if you use them and use them effectively, but otherwise they just take up space.
- Glitter- If you have used glitter in the last year on a project and not regretted it, skip this one. If not, get rid of your glitter. Your custodians will thank you. It's impossible to clean up. Don't believe me? Start at 2:13 in this video.
- Worksheet Duplicates- These are probably just taking up space. Only make as many copies as you need, and recycle the rest. If you can digitize your worksheets and resources, even better! If you have multiple file cabinets, try to get them pared down to one. This will make finding resources for your lessons much easier.
- Mismatched Containers You Don't Use- If you're like most teachers, you want everything to match and look nice where possible. If you have extra containers laying around that don't match the rest of them, get rid of them. If you need more storage you probably are going to buy new ones that match anyway. Plus, having fewer containers means filling up fewer containers!
- Treasure Box Items- Parents are very familiar with having their children come home with junky toys they now have to find storage for. Instead, try giving privileges as an incentive instead. Teach your students to be mindful and value experiences over things. I use these classroom coupons from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that can easily be stored and organized in a binder.
Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below.