February 12, 2020 4 min read
It’s easy enough to start the year with an organized classroom. But if the first few months of school have left you surrounded by a sea of papers, post-its, and general clutter, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, fall is a great time to reevaluate and reset your classroom organization. You’ll be able to finish the semester strong with your newly organized work space. And there’s no one better to inspire your classroom de-clutter than the organization guru herself, Marie Kondo.
The Tidying Up with Marie Kondo craze from earlier this year may have faded out, but her signature KonMari method is still a surefire way to get organized and create a classroom that sparks joy instead of stress!
First, try to picture your ideal classroom and workspace.
It’s tempting to skip this step, but a clear vision will keep you motivated and help you make more intentional decisions as you declutter.
Marie Kondo recommends organizing by four categories: clothes, books, papers, and komono (miscellaneous). Since you don’t have clothes in your classroom, start with books.
Typical Marie Kondo advice is to try to keep no more than 30 books, but obviously, you classroom is different than your home. Keep as many books as you and your students need, but do be honest about what you actually use. If you haven’t touched a book in years, it may be time to let it go.
This category can be a tough one for teachers. An abundance of paper simply comes with the job, but you can still keep them from overtaking your desk.
If you haven’t already, create “In” and “Out” baskets for student work. When that’s not enough, consider splitting student papers into more categories. You can create separate baskets different subjects, different periods, and different types of assignments.
Figuring out how to organize your own papers can be a bit tougher. It’s all too easy to fall into a “just in case” mentality and keep materials you know you’ll never use. Granted, it’s great to have plenty of inspiration and resources on hand when you’re planning lessons. But remember that those resources only help you if you can actually find them when you need them. That outdated curriculum from seven years ago is just in your way.
Creating separate “Yes,” “Maybe,” and “No” piles can be helpful when you’re determining what to keep. When you see how many awesome resources you have that you do want to keep, you may feel less nervous about letting go of those “just in case” items.
And remember that you can always scan items you want to keep but don’t want in paper form. As long as you give your files descriptive names, they’ll be easier to find anyway!
This category encompasses everything else in your classroom from pens to paper clips to, our personal favorite, headphones.
Your goal in sorting through these items is to keep only those that will be truly useful to you and your students. Once you’ve found your keepers, organize them in a way that allows you to easily see and reach everything that you have.
This post from We Are Teachers will give you organization inspiration for nearly every supply in your classroom. And with our ideas for headphone organization, even your classroom headphone storage can #sparkjoy.
Try to keep the surface of your desk as clear as possible and keep your desk drawers reserved for items you use regularly throughout the day. If possible, have another space devoted to extra supplies, and keep your students’ paper baskets in another part of the room.
Having a clutter-free desk is perhaps even more important for teachers than anyone else.
There’s so much in your day you can’t control, and your time for grading and planning is usually limited to a couple of hours max. The time you do get to spend at your desk should leave you feeling focused and centered, not even more scattered than before.
A main principle of the KonMari method is to return each item to its place every day. This may not be practical for you every day, but do try to reset your room at the end of each week and reset your personal work space daily.
Marie Kondo recommends returning each item to its place at the end of each day. If that feels a bit silly to you, do try to take a second to have gratitude for your room as a whole as you leave each day. It may seem hokey, but it certainly made a difference in my own attitude towards my classroom.
Your classroom may not be perfect. It may be under supplied. It may have too many students in too little space. But by organizing your space and taking time to be grateful, you give your students what they really need: a teacher with a little less stress and a little more joy.
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