Yep. Teachers have the ability to hoard. It may be organised and neatly labelled (if you’re a little OCD like me!) but when you think about it we tend to own a lot of junk. If we applied these same methods to our personal lives we’d find our houses overflowing with lots of trinkets, plastic bric-a-brac and cushions… so many cushions. Maybe it already is? As we continue upon our hoarding adventures we begin to notice our garages, sheds and classroom cupboards filled to the brim with plastic tubs that are stacked one on top of the other like a carefully constructed tower. Each one labelled to remind us of all the things we own, because maybe one day, say in ten years from now, I might use those Winnie the Pooh Calendar magnets – but only if the kids never touch them because I’m so scared of losing them.
Instead of eliminating the useless to make room for the purposeful we just buy more tubs and find more cupboards to store it all in. For the extreme hoarding teacher, it’s just too late I’m afraid.Your obsession for brightly coloured things that were only 5 for $10 has now begun to spill out into your learning environment, and because you have so many things you don’t think twice at throwing away the resources that have since been trampled on by little feet. This is not good.
Today I sifted through all my teacher ‘stuff‘ that I have had stored away for the last few years during my time between maternity leave and part time work. This year I decided to go through it all and decide what was worth keeping. The rest was to be either recycled or donated.
I didn’t find much to take back to work with me. All the resources I thought would come in useful one day, the books I bought in bulk because they were cheap, the cushions (Why do I have so many cushions?), and the towers of storage containers… All. The. Crap. Well, most of it doesn’t serve any real purpose or is outdated. I’ve been looking at it all and I’m struggling to see the point to a lot of it because there is so much of it I have never actually used before. Never! It’s all just been there just in case! In case of what!? The day my school suddenly doesn’t have any resources left? Sure some schools might not have an extensive supply for teachers to access compared to another, or they might not be the prettiest of resources, but I’m almost certain that schools have stuff you can use. I know it’s nice to have your own things, I love having my own resources, but how many times have you decided not to let the kids use certain items because they might ruin them?
It’s this ‘stuff’ that can clutter our rooms and overwhelm us! Of course we can have organised chaos, finding the perfect spot for those ‘one day’ items and make sure they’re out of the way, but I’m just not sure that’s how I want to operate anymore. Out of sight is often out of mind. How many times have you come across things you bought years ago and then completely forgot about? What’s the point of storing all these things if they don’t serve a purpose right now? Why buy something that you might use some day?
So, I’ve been brutal. I have tossed, sorted and donated… I may even sell some things and make some extra cash… and now I feel like I have a clean slate from which to work off. My teacher purchasing rules are as follows…
- I will only purchase items that have a specific purpose, will be utilised on a regular basis and possibly have more than one use.
- I will think about how I can be more environmentally friendly, sourcing more sustainable resources that aren’t a part of our throw away culture.
- I will make more of an effort to get to know what materials, tools and resources I already have available to me at school and use them regularly.
- I will not buy every cute thing (this includes cushions!) just to decorate my space with. Decorating is awesome but I want it to have purpose – another post for another time though!
Letting go of your things can be hard but the sense of relief is better. I’ve been simplifying things within my personal life for the last year now so applying the same idea to my teaching practice has been a natural step. If you’re new to minimising or thinking about it as a teacher I suggest baby steps and asking yourself the following questions:
Does it serve an educational purpose?
Does it bring joy to you and your students?
When you’re honest with yourself you’ll likely find out that you have been hoarding useless crap for a number of years. It’s time to let go of those ‘one day’ items and think about what really matters. We think kids need all the bells and whistles when it comes to our classrooms but you’ll find all too often that they just want you to be present in their lives… but again, that’s another post for another time. 🙂
Let. It. Go.