Looking to clean out your classroom and get it organized for the rest of the year? This post shares how you can declutter a classroom and organize it without spending tons of time or money.
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Seasons for Decluttering
One thing I learned (maybe noticed is a better word) during my time living in Germany is the seasons. I’m from Texas so you can understand that my seasons typically are “hot” and “really freakin’ hot.”
Where we lived in Germany, we experienced all four seasons and I loved it.
This tied in perfectly to a wise lesson I learned from The Nester, Myquillyn Smith, and the Cozy Minimalist way of decorating.
So this past winter when it was time to start putting away the Christmas decor and transitioning my house to Spring, I was excited for it! And I actually felt the gradual shift in my house as I took down a lot of things and simply just decluttered my house in preparation of the new season arriving.
The same thing can happen in your classroom. The winter and holiday months are busy and there are so many things going on.
Once things settle down a bit in the new year, it’s a great time to declutter a classroom and get it organized for the remainder of the school year.
How to Declutter a Classroom
In my graduate classes we always used the phrase “inch by inch everything’s a cinch.” That’s how you have to declutter a classroom.
You have to just start and take it little by little.
My tendencies, when wanting to implement something new, is to completely overhaul everything in one go. You might be tempted to spend a few days over a holiday break or a long weekend up at your classroom decluttering.
However, I think this can actually be counterproductive. I cannot tell you how many times I have overhauled something only to find out after a few weeks of working with it that I didn’t actually like the new system I came up with.
Instead, if you organize bit by bit you can see what works for you and what doesn’t and then gradually organize things in the most effective way for you.
Getting Rid of Classroom Items
A good place to start would be just by getting a “recycle” and “donate” box, looking around your classroom, and identifying an area that is cluttered. Just one area!
Then, start looking through all the items stacked and piled on top of each other. Are there any items that you can just get rid of?
- Dried out markers
- File folder games that are falling apart
- Teacher resource books that you no longer (or ever) used
- Board games your kiddos don’t play with
- Books that are falling apart
- Outdated decorations
The list can go on and on. In fact, here are 51 things you can get rid of right now.
Perhaps you have things that no longer serve you or your students but could be a benefit to another teacher. Start a pile for this. (Although, be cautious… if it’s from the 90s and super outdated, who is going to want it? Just toss it.)
What to do with Former Teacher’s Stuff
This is a problem I hear about often.
Many of us have had the experience of walking into our brand new classroom full of excitement and ready to set it up only to be met with complete chaos in the form of textbooks, materials, and anchor charts circa 1987!
I admit I made the mistake my first year of teaching of thinking that any resource a teacher left (or was trying to give me) would be helpful.
My mentor teacher my first year shared wise words with me.
She told me that if I did not invest my own money into buying the resource, I was unlikely to actually invest my time in looking through it and using it.
While it may be tempting to think that all the stuff a former teacher left you might help you out one day, just go ahead and toss it!
Don’t be afraid to get rid of outdated materials. And when I say get rid of, I don’t mean by passing it off to another teacher. I mean literally put it in the recycle and don’t look back.
Also, maybe don’t ask for permission either ;).
This might be controversial but if your school has resources from past adoptions (think text books from 8 to 10 years ago that aren’t being used because they have adopted a new curriculum) that no one is using, just let it go!
I had some of these resources in my classroom at one time and I asked the person in charge of them and she said “you can just keep them in your classroom, I’m not keeping inventory of them.”
So I took that as my cue to put it in the recycle!
Really, just get rid of it! Don’t even waste time looking through the stuff “just in case.”
That tends to be how the clutter begins. We hold on to things “just in case” and that “just in case” time never comes!
Spring Clean Your Classroom in 5 Easy Steps!
Decluttering and cleaning out your classroom might take you some time and it may not feel totally worth it. But research shows us that clutter and disorganization effect our brains and our ability to concentrate.
And if it effects our brains than it most definitely effects kids brains.
A lot of teachers become overwhelmed when they want to get their classroom organized because it feels like they have to do a complete overhaul.
Yes, that would likely be beneficial but it’s not very practical.
Instead, you can organize these five key areas in your classroom and these things alone will help your classroom feel more clutter-free, organized, and light.
- Teacher Desk
- Student Desks
- Small Group Teaching Area
Inside the 5 Day Classroom Organization Challenge I break down how to organize each of those key areas with step-by-step directions and resources to help you along the way.
1. Teacher Desk
First up, get your teacher desk cleaned off and organized. This is a spot where a lot of clutter tends to pile up because it’s a flat place to put things in the middle of teaching.
Instead, you want your desk to remain cleared off at all times so you can actually get work done there!
Check out this list of 12 Must-Have Desk Accessories for Teachers.
2. Classroom Papers
Papers seem to be one of the areas teachers struggle with the most when it comes to getting a hold on classroom organization. There are SO many papers it’s hard to know what to do with them all!
In the Classroom Paper Organization Course I teach you how to declutter and organize your papers so they stay organized moving forward.
3. Classroom Cabinets
Another good place to start when you declutter a classroom is the cabinets. Cabinets are great because they have doors on them that can hide all of the stuff in them.
But that also means it’s easy to shove things in there and try to forget about it.
Instead, find one cabinet that can use a little TLC and clean it out. You can see how I organize my classroom cabinets by themes here.
4. Student Desks
Let’s not forget our kiddo’s desks! The papers and junk falling out of student’s desks can add to the visual clutter in the classroom.
When I was in the classroom, I tried to change my students’ seats at least once every six weeks. When it was time to change seats, we would also take the time to clean out and organize their cubbies.
This helped with the stuff falling out of their desks.
5. Small Group Teaching Area
The small group teaching area is another spot in the classroom where teachers tend to pile things throughout the day.
As I tell students inside The Organized Teacher Framework™, even if you don’t meet with students in small group very often, you at least want administration thinking you do.
A cluttered small group table immediately tells any observers in your classroom that you are not meeting with students in a small group setting.
Once you declutter a classroom, then you can move on to:
Declutter with the Classroom Organization Master Class
Once you declutter your classroom, it’s time to start building in structures and routines to keeping the classroom organized throughout the year.
Inside the Classroom Organization Master Class, you will learn the 6 must-haves to creating an organized classroom as well as how to implement those things in your own classroom.
In order to declutter a classroom you need to take it little by little. First, start by getting rid of as many of the things on this list as you can. (Just remember not to give outdated, unusable stuff to another teacher!)
Then, follow the steps inside the Classroom Organization Challenge to declutter and organize these five key areas in your classroom:
- Teacher Desk
- Classroom Papers
- Student Desks
- Small Group Table/Utable
You can get all the resources and support for getting those areas cleaned out by clicking here to join the free 5-day challenge!
Here is a quick recap of all the links shared in this post:
- 51 Things a Teacher can get Rid of Right Now!
- Free 5-day Classroom Organization Challenge
- 12 Must-Have Desk Accessories for your Teacher Desk
- Classroom Paper Organization Course
- Tips for Organizing Classroom Papers
- Classroom Cabinet Organization Resources
- Classroom Organization Master Class
- How to Stay Organized Throughout the Year
- Organizing Stations and the Small Group Area
- The Organized Teacher Framework™ course
Until next time,