Well, it is August 1, and for many, especially my educator friends here in Texas, that means another school year is on the horizon. Ready to tackle your classroom with a renewed sense of purpose and organization? Wondering how to KonMari your classroom? Well, you are in luck! I’ve decided to share some ideas on this. I spent 30 years in education – 15 as a classroom teacher, 11 as a technology facilitator, and 4 as a media specialist. In each of those roles, organization was always a high priority for me. I can’t function in a mess, and I truly believe that most students can’t either. Even if being organized wasn’t a natural state for my students, they learned to be at least for the time they were in my room. I had systems in place for everything from turning in assignments to selecting the desired lunch item. I could go on and on about ways to keep the kids organized (and I will), but you can’t get them organized if you aren’t organized yourself.
Create a Vision
Before you start unpacking all the boxes and bins that were stored for the summer, I want you to create a vision for your classroom. In your perfect world, what does your classroom look like? What’s on the walls? How are the shelves organized? What systems do you want in place for your students to promote self-sufficiency? Think about the atmosphere you want to create. How do you want it to feel for your students as they walk in each day? Draw a picture, make a list, print out your favorite pins from Pinterest – do whatever you need to so that you have something tangible that represents your vision. Now I want you to tape it to a wall or tack it to a bulletin board so that you see it every day while you are preparing your classroom for the coming year. This will be your reminder of what’s important to you and will help to keep you on track.
How Will This Work?
We’ll tackle your classrooms in a similar way to how Kondo recommends doing your home – sorting by category, discarding first, and using the storage containers and spaces you already have. When we tidy our homes with the KonMari Method, we all know the key question is, “Does this spark joy?” But that question is not as likely to work here – before you know it, you’d have an empty room! But you can still approach it from a positive viewpoint. So while you’re standing there holding a stack of old newsprint, ask yourself, “Is this something I really want to keep?” “Is this still useful to me?” I’m willing to bet that a large portion of what we have in our cabinets is there simply because it always has been. It might have been something that was useful once, but it’s not any longer, and we just don’t take the time to dispose of it. Now is that time.
Don’t Buy Storage Bins
I know you – teachers are lured by pretty bins and tubs and baskets in matching or coordinating colors and patterns. And with back-to-school stuff out now, it all screams, “Buy me!” But I beg you – don’t do it. First of all, the storage bins themselves take up a lot of prime real estate. Secondly, as you are discarding, you will probably free up space in the bins and baskets you already have. Wait until you’ve discarded everything and then see if additional containers are still necessary
Change Your Mindset
This will be toughest of all. Teachers are pack-rats by nature for a couple of reasons. 1) We don’t make a lot of money, so we tend to keep anything that we think can be of use, and 2) Our frugality makes us industrious, so we are convinced that everything can be used for something. Stop the madness! Eliminate “just in case” as a reason for keeping things. When was the last time you actually did an art project in your classroom? I bet it’s been long enough that you can probably let go of the paint and yarn and craft sticks (at least some of them, anyway).
I speak from experience. Before I retired, I spent weeks going through old files and boxes. We all know things can change in an instant so even though I had been out of the classroom for fifteen years, I kept things “just in case” I had to go back. Well, that never happened and even if it had, much of what I kept couldn’t have been reused. I’m pretty sure a worksheet I made using a Thermofax machine back in the ’80s would hardly be relevant today.
So today is step one – create that vision for your classroom, and display it prominently in your room. Then get ready to make that vision a reality.
My next post will focus on the category you probably have the most of – paper. Subscribe to this blog or check back in a couple of days, and be ready to KonMari your classroom.