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July 27, 2012

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Share your Hoarding Habits and Enter to Win a Together Teacher Coaching Session.

Cookie Monster trash canBy now, many of you have started heading back to your classrooms to unpack boxes, unearth tote bags, and generally get in order for the upcoming school year.

Those sales at Staples and the Dollar Store are tempting, but before you buy out every plastic supply caddy or composition notebook in a 10-block radius, let’s first make a list of the old stuff you can throw away.

Since we’re in the Trust Tree here, I will share a confession from my own Back to School days: I once opened a classroom cabinet and found about 100 empty toilet paper rolls I was “saving” with the idea that I would stuff them with birthday presents and wrap them in pretty paper for my fourth graders. Needless to say, that never happened.

To make sure you don’t end up with 100 empty toilet paper rolls raining down on your head, my team of Together Teacher Testers created this list of Things to Get Rid Of as you prepare to start this school year fresh! Read here to see how Kelly, one of our Testers, unburied her own desk.

To begin, find 2 – 3 uninterrupted hours in your classroom and commit to using this time exclusively for sorting through your stuff. No planning, no emailing, no nametag-making. Just pitching, trashing and tossing!

Believe me, it’s liberating!

Arm Yourself with the Following Tools:

  • Recycling bin
  • Scanner
  • Trash bag (a BIG one)
  • Folders (to hold the papers you keep)
  • Baskets (to hold the stuff you keep)

Papers to Pitch:

  • That schedule book from last year’s science conference. You probably won’t go back and contact any of the presenters, so why are you saving it? Copy down any info you do want, then toss.
  • Paper you’re keeping only because you feel guilty about the forests. So the copier misfired and you made three years worth of single-sided math packets? Forgive yourself! Donate to the art teacher or the recycling bin.
  • Any employee handbooks or benefits information over a year old.
  • Agendas from staff or department meetings over six months old.

Books/Magazines/Posters to Toss:

  • Sample textbooks you haven’t cracked open in the last year…or ever. Don’t feel guilty, just do it!
  • The several hundred copies of Ranger Rick Magazine from 2008 that your cousin “donated” to your classroom.
  • Visual anchors or posters that you haven’t used for a year

Supplies to Trash:

  • Stuff you collected for art or science projects that families could provide in the future: popsicle sticks, soda bottles, cardboard boxes, etc.
  • Any supplies that are no longer functional. It’s time to say goodbye to that drawer of markers with no tops, dried out glue sticks, broken calculators, and little pieces of bulletin board border. Trust me, these goodies will be happier in Supply Heaven.

Did your parents ever give you the talk about how if you’re wondering if you need a shave, then you definitely do? Apply the same line of reasoning to decisions about supplies. Wondering if it’s time to throw something out? It is!

Other “stuff”

  • It’s always hard to know what to do with student gifts and cards from past years. I recommend you scan or photograph anything you’re not already using or displaying.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on what to “do” with the stuff you save. For now, focus on what you can get rid of.

Congratulations on clearing the clutter!

Two important public service announcements:

  1. Be good to the environment. Please recycle whenever possible!
  2. Be mindful of legal issues. When in doubt about what to do with student information, check with your school or district on policy.

Together Teacher CONTEST!

Together Teacher Content starConsider your classroom. 1) What is one area you know you need to organize, but you’re not sure where to begin? Describe what we would see if we walked into your classroom. Please keep responses to 500 words or less.

I will select the top two great answers for a one hour “Together Teacher: Clear the Clutter” phone consultation on your area of challenge.

Enter to win by Monday, August 13, by using the comments section below this blog post. Include your first name and last initial at the end of your response.  Winners will be announced on the blog on August 24.

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