Tag Archives: sorting

Decluttered Closet



When I moved to my new school two years ago, I was in awe of all the storage space I had in my classroom.  Most of one entire wall is filled with upper and lower cabinets – more storage than I’ve had in years.

This is only a portion of the cabinets on this wall!


But wait – there’s more!  I also have a walk-in closet with metal shelving that I don’t even have to share with anyone else.  I was amazed!


However, coming in at the last minute, and not knowing what belonged to the school or the teacher who was out on leave, I basically left the closet untouched for a year.

Fast forward a year.  All that is left in the closet belongs to the school or to me.

“Just shove it in the corner for now.”

“Just throw it anywhere, kids.”


My June project was to declutter and organize my closet.  What with summer school and a bad back, I haven’t actually finished this project, but I managed to get the declutter part completed, sort of.  Everything from the closet went into one of four piles:  keep in closet, store elsewhere, dispose of, and offer to colleagues as freebies.  Old, out of date textbooks have been boxed up for the custodians to remove, the pile of give aways is boxed up and ready to go to the teachers’ mailroom, and I’m in the process of finding homes for everything else.  So far, the closet looks like this:

a work in progress


When I get back from vacation, my goal is to get everything else in its place, see what containers I need and containerize.  Then I’ll need to find homes for the items that will not be returning to the closet, but which I still need to keep.  I’ll have one day to get it done.  Wish me luck!







Week 3 – I’ve Been Purging and My Classroom Feels Lighter Already


One of the benefits of being in a different classroom four years in a row is that you get rid of a lot of stuff.  And a huge benefit of thinking you’re going to quit teaching and move 1200 miles away is that you really, really get rid of a lot of stuff.  So I’ve got a head start on Week 3 of the Clutter-Free Classroom Challenge!

So when that plan crashes and burns, you start over much lighter.  In fact, when I moved into my classroom last spring, I found I couldn’t even fill up all the cupboards and closet shelves.  Cool beans!

One area that has been out of control for months now is my desk.  I love pens.  And pencils.  And office supplies.  Thank you cards.  Sticky notes – oh man.  My desk was definitely the first on my clutter “hit list”.  Unfortunately, I was so excited to dive in, I never took any before pics of my desk drawers.  S0 you’ll have to take my word for it that finding things was challenging.

Purging was actually quite fun.  I set my bins up, dragged my trash can over, set my class recycling bin nearby, and went at it.  Most papers went in the recycling bin.  Seems when I can’t find something in a pile, I just make or get a new copy.  Not exactly a very environmentally friendly habit, I know.  I waited until the kids were gone for the day to discard the Valentine’s Day suckers, cards, and sundry candy.  Except the box of chocolates.  I ate those.  I mean, c’mon.  I did pretty much fill the Keep bin, but half of that was put away in other parts of the room.

A handful of items went in the small Donate bin.  As I said, I did some major purging several times in the past four years.  Empty Coke bottles, water bottles, broken rubber bands and the like went into the trash can. I kept going until the desk was completely empty.  And of course, I took absolutely NO PICTURES!!  I’ll get better at this before and after thing, I promise.

The next morning, when my class came in, one of my girls asked me, “Mrs. Clark, are you moving away?”  She was relieved to learn I was only cleaning.  Obviously something they’re not used to seeing!

Week 2 – Make a Plan, Stan.


Jodi, over at the Clutter-Free Classroom, has designated Week 2 of her Clutter-Free Classroom Challenge for making a plan.  I love making a plan.  Seriously love planning.  You sweat so much less than when you’re actually executing said plan.


I made a huge list of the areas of my room I needed to work on, but when I finished, I realized it was basically every square inch of my class.  So I’m going to hit the areas the kids and I use most frequently, and go from there.

I decided my sorting bins would be:

  •  Recycle – we already have bins for this in our room
  • Trash
  • Donate – this stuff will go to the teacher’s mailroom
  • Keep
My non-negotiable sorting rules are:
  • If I haven’t used it in three years, ditch it.  (My stuff stayed boxed up all last year because blah, blah, blah, so I’m giving myself an extra year,)
  • If it’s broken, ditch it.
  • If it’s something that I can print from my computer, ditch it.
  • If I have multiple copies lying around, ditch the extras.
  • If it’s out of date or irrelevant, ditch it.
My “sorting kit” consists of:
  • a bottle of cleaner
  • a roll of paper towels
  • garbage bags
  • Post-It notes
  • a tape measure
  • pad of paper and pencil
  • ziplocs of varying sizes
  • large and small labeled bins
My plan is to sort, to clean, and to organize – in that order.  I’m going to start small, as that is the only way I can find time to go Clutter-Free with a room full of fifth graders.  Wish me luck!