Educators are natural hoarders and when I was a classroom teacher, I was no exception. After all, you just don’t know when you’re going to need something.
That was literally my attitude about everything and since resources were often scarce and “teacher’s choice” (funds rewarded to classroom teachers for purchases they made for supplies in the classroom) was limited, if we got any, I always kept a stash of basic supplies as well as books and binders from old classes I taught.
And ultimately what ended up happening, is every time I switched classrooms or buildings, it was an opportunity to start letting go of things I haven’t made use of in a long time.
One year, I came across binders from my very first teaching job with handwritten lesson plans of books I no longer taught. Ironically, those handwritten plans were horrible and I have no idea why I felt so compelled to keep them except for the fact that I have an unnatural attachment to things I create.
As I transitioned in my new role as a team leader in a new district, I inherited someone else’s stuff. And when I first got to my new office, someone else had done me the great service of starting to get rid of old stuff, but I held onto a lot of the binders as I didn’t know what was in them and/or if anything would be of use in my position. Frankly, since I had no idea what I was going to need, it seemed foolish to get rid of any potentially useful resources.
Now in year two, I finally had the opportunity to start going through the binders, some containing materials from more than a decade ago and texts and/or materials from when I was a student myself more than 20 years ago. This year, I want to let go, clean house and start fresh, which is ironically equally as satisfying.
Walking into a well-organized, neat and uncluttered space makes for a much less stressful environment. I truly want the team to feel like they can use this space to work and/or collaborate and that means, the energy needs to shift.
Today’s task is cleaning out bookrooms so that those spaces can be more useful for everyone and have the appropriate resources and finishing up the office so that new books can be stamped and teacher goodie bags can be made.
Understandably, educators are always planning for the worst case scenarios, but sometimes, it is both necessary and important to let go of materials, lesson plans, supplies that no longer suit the job we are doing. It can also be a great opportunity to share those resources with other teachers who may use what is no longer useful to us for the benefit of all kids.
What will you get rid of this year, to make more space for the new? Please share
*Photo by Starr Sackstein
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.