HOW TO DECLUTTER A CLASSROOM

Declutter your classroom and simplify your life today using these simple organizing and decluttering strategies and ideas.
Over time it is nearly impossible not to collect too much stuff in your classroom.  Thoughtful veteran teachers passing along resources to you, the classroom you move into having a retired teacher’s full teaching collection, your own yard saling hobby, and personal spending habits at Amazon or the local teacher store… All of this can lead to a very full (and sometimes disorganized) classroom. Trust me! I get it!

Are you ready to get organized? The number one secret to being organized is having less stuff to keep organized. It sounds simple. And it can be. You just have to be in the right mindset to let go of "stuff" and start on your way to having your very own Clutter-Free Classroom.

This blog post will…


  • guide you through how to declutter your classroom
  • share how having too much stuff in the classroom negatively impacts you and your students
  • recommend supplies and tools you will need to clean out your classroom

Before we begin:



Reasons to Declutter


  • It’s distracting to students.
  • It causes you to spend more time and money because you can’t find things (which causes students to be off task and exhibit behaviors while you try to find something).
  • It causes parents, administrators, and colleagues to view you poorly.
  • It can even cause health issues from dust and other allergens.


Steps for Decluttering a Classroom



  1. Gather large bins, small bins, trash bags, and a recycling bin.
  2. Print and glue my sorting labels. Another option is to try the fancy idea with my sorting labels, which can be found below. A third option is to tape a piece of paper on each bin and write the different categories on the paper.  A fourth option is to write the categories directly on the bin.
  3. Go through classroom and sort items into bins.
  4. Bring materials to where you chose for them to go.
  5. Put away bins neatly.


Purposes of Bins


  1. Keep
  2. Give away (to friends / colleagues)
  3. Donate (to organizations)
  4. Sell
  5. Trash (you'll use a trash can for this)
  6. Recycle (you'll use a recycling bin for this)


Large Sorting Bins


  • Purpose: In preparation for decluttering, you'll need to get some containers for the purging process. These will be used for holding everything that is in transition, as well as the items you are going to be keeping as you sort. The cheapest option is to snag copy paper boxes. While this isn't an awful choice, it isn't ideal.  The benefits are that they are free, easy to come by, sturdy and can be stacked on top of each other (to a point).  On the other hand, the reason I don't like these is because they don't fit into each other so they take up a larger amount of space when not in use, they don’t hold a lot of stuff, and you can’t see what is inside of them without opening them. You're going to want to get some boxes for the items you are donating or giving away so grab some if you can. You just might want to consider other options for your sorting bins (e.g. clear tubs and laundry baskets).  Organizing is an ongoing process so you want to find bins that can be reused as you continue to purge and even maintain.  I have a set at home and a set at school and I use them fairly regularly. I like to feel like I'm organized when I'm organizing and having the same bins that I can reuse over and over sets the stage for a job that becomes a habit.
  • Recommended Sorting Bins: Clear tubs and laundry baskets are my favorites. I love a clear tub because they stack into one another when not in use {stack the lids on top}; you can easily see what is inside; they are sturdy; you'll always have a use for them; and you can put the lids on and stack them on top of each other (which is especially handy if you are taking on the act of decluttering while school is in session. You can sort and purge as time allows and when the kids come in for class, they can neatly be closed and stacked out of the way. This lets you pick up where you left off without interfering with your teaching.). Laundry Baskets are great because they stack into each other and don’t take up a lot of space when not in use. They’re designed for carrying things so they are easy to move around. They’re cheap (about $4.00 at Walmart). You can reuse them in other ways when you are done.


Small Sorting Bins


  • Benefits: Small sorting bins are great because you can set them on counters and desktops to make sorting more compact areas like the teacher's desk, drawers, and manipulatives much easier.
  • Types of Bins: My vote goes to clear plastic shoe boxes. I dig them for all the same reasons I dug the large, clear tubs. Other ideas for small sorting bins include: Dishpans, good old cardboard shoe boxes, small baskets from the Dollar Store, and baby wipe containers


Labels


  • Color-Code: I like to color-code my labels. It makes it easier to see at a glance where things are going as I quickly sort through the clutter.
  • Involve Students: I also like to involve my students whenever possible. I think that organization is an important concept for them to learn, but more importantly, it's a great opportunity to spend some time with them outside of the structured school day and makes them feel helpful and important. I usually will ask a couple of friends to come into class 15-20 minutes before school throughout the year to help in the classroom.
  • Freebie: I created labels reading, "keep, give away, recycle, and trash." You can attach them to a bunch of different containers and reuse them over and over. If you would rather write the words on the bins and boxes you can totally do that.


Fancy Idea


  • Clothespin Idea: I got even fancier by attaching a little scrap of patterned paper to my clothespins and then gluing the tags onto the clip. It looks all fancy pants, but it literally took me about 10 minutes total to print, mount, and trim the labels and then to add the scrapbook paper and label to the clip.
  • Benefits: 1) Your eyes get used to seeing the different colors on the tags which makes sorting faster. 2) They'll make you take your task more serious which means you'll get rid of more clutter. 3) They allow you to reuse your storage containers and makes them more flexible. 4) You can clip them onto a variety of containers: Copy paper boxes, milk crates, plastic shoe boxes, and laundry baskets.

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Declutter your classroom and simplify your life today using these simple organizing and decluttering strategies and ideas.



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