Thriving with Routines - A Monthly 'To-Do'
Along with developing an organized approach to lesson planning and daily/weekly routines, monthly routines that help you consistently clear out all the clutter and classroom 'extras' - i.e. unused curriculum, decorations, broken supplies, etc. - are also important for classroom maintenance!
In order to do this, we suggest a zone approach (i.e. dividing your classroom into complimentary segments) and tackling a different zone each week until all zones have been covered. For instance, Zone 1 might include your desk/office and all of the drawers, shelves, files, etc. in your immediate work space, Zone 2 might cover your storage areas including cabinets, closets, bins, shelves, etc. that house materials not in immediate use, and so on. If you have more zones than weeks in the month, simply cycle through each zone and repeat!
Since the goal is to reduce clutter, as you work through each space, separate items into three piles - 'to put away', 'to give away', and 'to throw away'.
- To put away... When in a hurry, it can be easy to throw curriculum, center items, decorations, etc. in the general direction of their designated area and hope that they magically make it somewhere near their home. If you come across items that you use (at least periodically) that have been placed in the wrong spot, take this time to put the items in their proper place. [NOTE: As you work through shelves and bins, this is also a good time to assess your storage/organizational system. For instance, if you find that your anchor chart system needs a 'face lift', this is the perfect time to put your Pinterest finds to work, etc!]
- To give away... Ever heard the wardrobe rule, "if you haven't worn it in two years, you never will so get rid of it!" Same goes for classroom resources and supplies. If you come across items that you haven't used for two to three years, now is the time to clear the clutter! Add them to the donation table at your school or even find a local church/daycare/homeschool group that might be able to use the items.
- To throw away... Broken items. Incomplete items. While you may have good intentions, chances are you'll never get around to fixing them, ordering replacement parts, or unearthing the missing piece(s). Unless you know of someone who does have the time and would have an interest in your cast-offs, recycle what you can, throw away the rest, and move on!
While this might seem overwhelming, after a few cycles, you'll notice that each zone requires less of a 'deep clean', a more of a quick 'touch-up' to keep it maintained. Also, while it will be different for everyone (depending on schedules and whatnot), if you spend even as little as ten to fifteen minutes each day working on a different drawer, shelf, etc. you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll work through everything!