Classrooms are a hive of activity, so it's natural that at the end of the day when all your energy has been put into teaching, there is little enthusiasm to focus on the classroom. Work and resources can start to build up and it can start to feel cluttered. Having a good clear out can not only create much needed space, but can also give you that feel good factor; helping to improve your mindset and inspire creativity.
Here are 7 tips to get you started:
1. Recycle your rubbish - this may seem obvious but it's a great place to start. If you have a stack of empty margarine tubs, crisp cans, laundry detergent bottles, and so on, there is no reason to feel guilty for tossing these into the recycle bin. If you’re not saving them for a specific lesson, get rid of them and avoid your cupboards being taken over.
2. Dump the junk - all teachers tend to have a stash of random paper clips, broken rubber bands, spinners and toys that have most likely been confiscated from pupils over the years. Whilst you may have every intention of cleaning the drawer out one day, you have got much higher priorities, which is why it never gets done.
Do a quick scan and save anything of value, then dump the rest. Immediately put useful things in the empty drawer so it’s full of the things you love and actually use, and doesn’t become a magnet for junk again.
3. Lose any legacy resources - the previous occupant of your classroom was not doing you a favour by leaving you with a filing cabinet packed full of resources. Anything more than ten, or even five years old, can get recycled immediately, unless it’s in new condition and clearly of exceptional, timeless quality. The resources served their purpose for many years, so it’s ok to let them go.
4. Recycle pupil portfolios - keep pupil portfolios and documents for one full school year after they’ve left your class, then recycle them. You shouldn’t need to keep documentation unless there’s a very special situation (you’ll know which pupil you might want to hang onto the paperwork for). Even think forward to digitising portfolios and removing 'paper' altogether.
5. Bin the books - it can be painful to get rid of books, but anything that you really don’t want your pupils to read should be removed. Books that are missing pages, scribbled on, grotty, 'boring' etc, send for recycling.
You want your class library to be a beautiful, organised place full of relevant books that pupils are excited to read and not a dumping ground for every text you’ve come across since 1977. I once invited a librarian into my school to help organise my books. Over 60% were outdated and 'binned'.
6. Save missing pieces - organise a missing pieces tub for your room for pupils to put 'stuff' they find on the floor. If missing pieces haven’t shown up by the end of the school year, get rid of the item the piece belongs to. Decks of cards that are missing twenty numbers, puzzles without that final corner piece – there is no point in keeping them.
7. Go digital - I used to keep at least two copies of the teaching resources I really loved in case I lost one or the photocopier chewed it up. But 99% of the time, you only need one paper copy and all those extras really add up.
Don’t hold onto things you can keep digitally, easily find online, or get from a colleague. You can download most resources from the internet. If something is really important, and you wished you had kept a copy, it won’t be gone forever, because someone else in the world will have a copy of it.
By completing a 'clear-out' in your classroom you'll be amazed at how good it will make you feel. A fresh start in a tidy and organised classroom will help you to create even more amazing lessons. There are also digital solutions out there that can not only support your planning, assessment and reporting, but also allow you to create an online library of resources that can be updated and shared by you and your colleagues.
Take steps to make a positive change in your school with the help of InfoMentor - a teaching and learning resource that has been specifically designed to make life easier for schools by tackling teacher workload. Take a look around our website where you can download white papers, view case studies and request a demo.