Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toss the Unnecessary Stuff

storageAs we near the end of the school year here in the US, it is time to think about getting rid of the old.

Get rid of:

· those old books that have outdated information,

· Old workbooks that have pictures of today’s people with yesterday’s hairdos.

· Maps of the world with countries that don’t exist anymore.

· Folders full of worksheets that you will never use.

· Paperwork from years ago that is meaningless.

When I retired from teaching 4 years ago, I saved boxes and boxes of stuff that I would want to use again if I decided to go back to teaching. I saved my favorite workbooks, reference books, and folders and folders of lessons that I enjoyed teaching. For 4 years, these materials sat in my dining room blocking the way to any use of this beautiful room. It also kept us from entertaining because I was not willing to part with any of this stuff.

This year I finally decided that I probably would not go back to teach in the public school since I have enjoyed teaching on the university level now. I enjoy teaching teachers and showing them the effective strategies that made my classroom successful. I enjoy sharing success stories of my students as they made their way into the world.

I packed up many of my children and young adult literature and delivered the boxes to my friend who teaches in middle school. I wasted 4 years by hoarding them in my dining room when students could have been reading them. At least the literature is timeless and won’t be out of date no matter when they read them. It was hard for me to part with my library because I enjoyed buying the books out of my own money and sharing the books with my students. As I went through the books, I couldn’t stop the fond memories that came back to me.

Then I packed up all the resource books that I thought my teacher friend could still use. A lot of the books were still useful and could be used to enhance the lessons that she will be teaching.

Unfortunately there was a tremendous amount of material that was out of date and useless. I guess it was hard for me to part with some of the books and files because again, they brought back some good memories. But I wish I had gotten rid of them earlier. Maybe someone would have been able to use them a long time ago before they became obsolete. None of the files I have would be of any use for anyone

I wish someone had given me suggestions so that I didn’t end up saving a bunch of useless stuff.

Here are some suggestions that I would give a new teacher.

1. Rate your materials (1 is something you used a lot, 2 sometimes and 3 not at all this year.

2. Write this rating of 1 or 2 and the date on a tag and label the material.

3. Toss all your 3s (offer it to someone else, donate it to Goodwill, or trash it!). Do not keep 3s around.

4. Store all your 1s together and 2s together.

5. At the end of the year, repeat this process. Decide if any of your 2s should become 3s. Toss any 3s

I think this would have saved me a lot of space and needless energy over the years. I think I need to apply this system to my clothes too and see how it works

Do you use a system to keep yourself from collecting too much “stuff”? If so, please share your system!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Went to an auction today.' by: Joel Washing


Mr. David T. Miller said...

Good reminder.....I need to do this. One thing that helps me part with things is trying to keep things digitally. Even typing the name of some good resources on an excell sheet and filing that sheet digitially on a usb drive helps assures me that I can at least secure the materials again if need be.

Ashleigh said...

I probably toss out too much, but I like an organized and neat classroom. It sometimes breaks my heart to throw away or give away things that I poured hours into creating, but if I didn't use it or I let it go. I also store the vast majority of my papers digitally, which really helps with organization.

loonyhiker said...

@Mr. David T Miller What a great idea! I didn't think of putting the resources in a spreadsheet. Taking that time will save time in the long run.

loonyhiker said...

@Ashleigh I'm finding out that I have kept too many things for sentimental reasons. I finally got rid of a lot after seeing that they were obsolete or faded or just plain old. It was hard but it leaves room for newer stuff. :)