|Image courtesy of KonMari.com|
This past week I signed up for Educators 2 Educators Teacher New Year Reboot Conference. While there was a lot of great information available at this conference, the thing I wanted to see more than anything was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Classroom from Building Book Love.
I'd previously read Marie Kondo's book, but had never thought about applying it to my classroom before. I've been feeling stressed lately about the size of my room, and the lack of storage and wall space, so seeing BBL's post on Instagram seemed serendipitous.
When I watched her presentation, the number one thing that stood out to me was the concept of taking EVERYTHING out and then figuring out how to organize things. I had been trying to organize around the things I had already stored, even though those things had been put away haphazardly in a rush at the beginning of the year and where they were placed really made no sense. No wonder I wasn't making any progress!
Feeling super energized and optimistic, I decided to commit my entire teacher planning day after Winter Break to this challenge.
If you're interested in doing the same in your room, I highly recommend you join Building Book Love's Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Classroom FREE 7 Day Challenge.
|A quick snapshot of what me room looked like daily.|
Despite my enthusiasm, it took a little effort to get going. What can I say? Coming back to work after two weeks and hitting the ground running is a little rough. Still, I eventually did start pulling out all of my belongings and stacking them on the desks in the middle of my room. The only things I left in place were student binders and notebooks, because I knew I wanted them to stay where they were. EVERYTHING else came out. EVERYTHING.
It was kind of exhausting removing items from every corner of the room, but it also felt really good to take stock of what I had. In the 7 years I've been teaching I've been through 4 subject areas, 4 classrooms, and combined with a co-teacher with 25 years experience. So while I had a lot of the usual clutter of supplies and materials, I also had a ton of off miscellaneous items around. I honestly could not have told you half of what was in my room.
But with everything pulled out and categorized, things didn't seem so bleak. I realized I had a fair amount of space to store things on shelves if I organized properly, and I had more wall space available once the boxes and bins were out of the way.
|All of my sorted piles|
The first major thing I did was recognize that I simply could not store our Relay for Life fundraising materials in my room. I had shirts, wristbands, and other materials filling up filing cabinet drawers, bookshelves, and tabletops. Feeling frustrated, I vented to my sister whose own room is one building over from mine. And, like the sound of angels from heaven, she told me:
"I have an empty cabinet this can probably all fit in."
BAM! Big cart, 3 shelves, and 3 filing cabinet drawers were freed! Talk about magic!
Next I went into my miscellaneous pile. I knew some of it would be tricky to sort and organize, but there was also clearly a lot that I simply did not need. With ruthless precision I yanked out anything I knew right away was unnecessary and started a give away pile.
I also started a return pile because, apparently, I had things that belonged to a number of other people.
Once the pile had grown too big to fit on one desk, I bagged it up and brought it to our planning room and put it on display. Another sigh of relief. I could finally breathe in my classroom.
I boxed up the rest of the miscellaneous items to deal with another day, then moved on to my novels. I realized just how few I had actually taken to my new room. I stacked them on my nicest bookshelf and planned to get more books from storage.
Looking around the room I started to see things I hadn't before. My Harry Potter posters, as much as I loved them, did not match my Superhero theme, so them came down.
I had highlighters stored in three different places. They were all combined into one container.
I HATED the sliding draw organizers I used because of course adding an extra level in my desk drawers made sense. Who wouldn't want more room? Except they slid around, blocked access to the other materials in the drawer, and they were ugly. Now I had the clarity to let them go.
Near the end of the day I found myself looking back to my desk area repeatedly. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it definitely did NOT "spark joy" as Marie Kondo would recommend. It felt cramp and cluttered, and despite having a rack organizer, desk drawers, and a 2 drawer filing cabinet, I was constantly stacking papers on random corners and over my printer until I could get to them. It simply wasn't working.
So I yanked out my desk. I didn't even like it to begin with. It's metal, and it doesn't watch the wood of my shelves or the build in shelf that holds the room's electronics. I had made do with it because it was all I had, but after tidying everything else, I felt ready to try removing it completely!
It didn't work. Or rather, removing my desk and shifting my computer to the side counter didn't work, because then I would be putting my back to the room any time I took attendance or loaded a presentation. No bueno.
Still, removing that desk had felt so good, I simply refused to put it back. After playing around with a number of ideas, I condensed two of the student computers to one table, and dragged the other table over. I tried it in a few spots and finally placed it in a spot that DID spark joy.
With only a few minutes before I would have to leave for my doctorate classes, I rewired my computer, not even caring that the wires were in a cluttered pile. Somehow it still felt better than my old desk and it's hidden wires ever had.
Several students came in the next day and commented on how much bigger the room looks and how open it is! I really expected them to be chiding me about the massive pile of things I had waiting on our small group table but I guess the overall effect of my tidying and rearranging overrode that.
Their enthusiasm gave me the energy to push through a 12 hour day the next day.