Spring cleaning is a time honored tradition with roots in many global religions and cultures. Jewish people clean their homes before Passover. Every year on the spring equinox, Iranians participate in spring cleaning in honor of Now Rouz (the new year). The Chinese also participate in spring cleaning around the time of their New Year celebrations.
In that spirit, this is a wonderful time of the year to take a fresh look at your classroom. Start with your own areas and give them a spring cleaning as well.
Holding on to papers and paper copies of work can make your teacher space and other spaces around the room appear cluttered and disorganized. In the book, Classroom Spaces that Work, the authors suggest using the “Two Year Rule” and “Two Inch Rule” to reduce paper clutter.
- Two Year Rule: If you have not used it in two years, chances are you will not ever use it again.
- Two Inch Rule: No pile of paper should get higher than two inches. If it does, it is time to sort, file, recycle or throw away.
Another useful way to de-clutter your space is recommended by Debbie Diller in Teaching with Intention. She suggests sorting items into three piles:
- Things to Keep
- Things to Give Away (to other teachers or kids, to donate, etc.)
- Things to Throw Away
Lastly, ask yourself these questions when you come to an item you are not sure whether to keep:
- Have you used it this year?
- Do you want to use it next year?
- Do you already have a copy of this?
- Is this something you used to use, but have something better to use now in its place?
Once you have sorted your papers and reduced the clutter in your teacher space, use these same tips to observe the rest of your classroom. Have students’ papers accumulated in various spaces around the room? How do the children’s folders and/or desks look? Help guide them to re-organize and de-clutter as well.