This June, with just 3 years — or maybe 4 if the stock market takes a nose dive — left of my teaching career, I’ve started the process of streamlining. It seems like a good idea. I certainly don’t have an delusions that all that stuff I’ve been saving “just in case” is going to be manna from heaven for my replacement. But more importantly, we are going to begin using the new Common Core Standards here in Massachusetts. So this seems like as good a time as any to clean closets and really look at what is useful, may be useful, and should have been in the circular file years ago.
I find it difficult to let go of those things with which I’ve found some measure of success, even when those “things” have outlived usefulness. For example, I have entire units of author studies that my old grade level team and I developed when we had to use a particular basal for Reading First. Reading First has long expired and I no longer teach second grade, why I couldn’t let go of that remains a mystery. I’m not sure it’s much use to second grade teachers I know — it is so outmoded… as it should be. Our teaching should change over time; to continue to hammer at instruction from viewpoints held long ago is to be stale and not responsive to the kids in front of us.
So along with the frenzy of record keeping and end-of-year to-do lists, I am taking some time to reflect on what is in my classroom, to finally get rid of the things that are just taking up space, and to redesign the feel of the room. I want it to be more welcoming and friendly and not so focused on function. The Daily Cafe has some great information on classroom design, but there are others who have shared their passion for creating spaces that are welcoming to students.
Lots to think about and consider over the summer. But for now, I can be found next to the recycling bin.