Friday, January 6, 2012

Clutter-Free Classroom Project, Week 1

I'm joining up with Jodi and Friends at CFC for the Clutter-Free Classroom Project!  You can read all about the project by clicking the link at the side of my blog.  To see what's happening during Week One of the project, click on the link at the bottom of the page.

I was nervous about taking pictures of my classroom for this project--and even more nervous about posting them for all the world (okay, maybe 14 random BlogFriends) to see. I guess it is a bit like some 12-Step Program... it's a good start to admit that there is a problem!

I took a few pictures to make myself feel like I really try to be organized.  Look how neatly they put away their textbooks!   Gosh, that may be where the organization begins and ends...

Some of the pictures I took made my classroom look better than it does in reality, but the truth is the pockets and piles of clutter make the whole space look disorganized. My classroom is an odd mix of hyper-organized areas and extraordinarily cluttered spaces. (Sometimes I wonder if I just wanted to have all points on the spectrum covered!)

With 34 kids and 36 desks desks (double tables), the classroom is very small. There is very little floor space, and I need to "walk like an Egyptian" to navigate through the few spaces in between the chairs. Since I was focusing on individual areas, I didn't get any photos that would give a good sense of the "whole classroom."  But I did get a good sense of the task that lies ahead.

I don't have a desk--just a little area with some items that look just... haphazard.  I need to get rid of some things... although most of these things are those little treasures that kids give to their teachers.  I need to figure out how to keep the sweet thoughts, but put the items elsewhere (Uh Oh.  Where IS elsewhere?)

There is an area behind the Promethean Board.  I "store" my ELD group materials here because we work on the carpet in this area.  This is just so... not okay!

I keep my materials for Centers in these crates (although much of it was in my car for reorganizing when I took this photo).  Still, there are things that should have been put way long ago!

Here is the area where students turn in their work.  They actually take responsibility for most of the turning in, checking in, and organizing. While the necessary materials are here, a little organization would go a long way!

Here is the game cupboard after the kids "put away" the games.  It's not awful, but it's not good either. I am considering designing a "blueprint" to show where the games go so that all of the boxes will fit on the shelves--and you can still close the cupboard doors!

Here is the clutter magnet!  There are so few "open spaces" in the classroom, this desk is often piled high.  It's right next to the door, so things are often dropped off here when entering the room.  I also tend to pile things here to take home, to take to the office, to take to other teachers, or to give to kids or parents.  This area needs a clean-up.  More importantly, this area needs a SYSTEM.

So... here's the real truth.  The desk in the picture above looks a bit disorganized now, but it looked a lot worse two weeks ago!

Before I left for Winter Break, I brought home everything that was left out (along with all of the other delights that seem to accumulate when gift-giving and cookie-baking has occurred).  I hate returning to a "messy room," so, somehow in my mixed-up noggin, I decided I would bring it home and "sort"though it. BIG MISTAKE! It seems as if half of my classroom is currently in my house!  There were seventeen boxes when I started...

Gradually, I began to sort through the piles... and this pile has been scaled down a bit.


This is my motivation for joining up with the CFCP.  I really do not want to appear on the next episode of Hoarders.  But it is increasingly hard to navigate through the house when you have to step over the paper cutter, tiptoe through the markers, clips, and math manipulatives, and then hop right-left-right to avoid knocking over the piles of 16 Beverly Cleary and12 Wimpy Kid books.  (Not to mention the 88 never-read books in the closed--SEALED--box that is used as a base to hold a larger pile of things!)

It's too hard to work in a 1000 square foot "apartment," when I share it with the hubs--and my teaching life.

I have a hundred professional books in the room where we have our desks, and there is a tonnage of other materials in my garage. But school materials in my bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen need to be sorted out and sent back to school.

I'm ready, Jodi. 
It's time for a change.

Click on the  image below to see what other teachers are doing.
Or, maybe you'd like to do a little decluttering of your own...


  1. Thanks for linking up Kim! It looks like you have a lot of storage containers and bins. Those will come in handy after we purge!

    ❤Jodi from...
    ★★The Clutter-Free Classroom★★
    Helping Teachers Get Organized

  2. Hey Kim!! Happy Saturday! I'm so happy to be catching up and I had to stop by your blog right away to see what was new.

    I don't think your pictures look bad at all (do you have more photos of your classroom, it looks so lovely and I want to see more!) I've done the same thing...bringing things home to sort and then wishing I didn't!! You should see my car...yikes!

    I'm using this decluttering process as an excuse to buy more plastic storage, how bad is that?! I have those same bright-colored baskets from Really Good Stuff--I love them and so do the kids!! But there always room for more, right??
    Kristen :)

  3. Girl, you're taking on a lot!!!!!!!! Can't wait to see how you turn t all around! I need to upload the pics I took later today & link up!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure

  4. Kim, it's not that bad. :) Really. :)
    I hate when I bring stuff home and get my house all cluttered. So then I put it back in the car. It's a terrible cycle.
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  5. I giggled at the Walk like an Egyptian line!!! Good luck!

    My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher

  6. I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. Please head over to my blog to check out the rules and spread the love!

  7. Gosh, I thought I was cramped with 27 students. 34? Wow.

    I awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Head on over to my blog to collect :)


    Fun in Room 4B

  8. Looks like you are a popular lady. :) I hopped over after you left a comment on my blog and wanted to award you the Liebster Award. Happy Saturday!
    Life with Mrs. L

  9. It's not so bad.

    I've so worked on the floor too! What I dd was have a box, or basket where I would keep my materials. I would keep it off of the floor but being it with me, when it was time to work on the floor.

    The games might look better in a large bin/ basket. Maybe a hamper that you can slide in and out of the closet.

    At least you don't have papers everywhere like I do.

    Ms. M
    Ms.M's Blog
    A Teacher's Plan

  10. I need to find a good solution for meeting with small groups on the floor too. Hopefully we will find the perfect thing for us both!

    Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

  11. I loved when you said that this is like a 12-step program!! I was thinking the same thing. :)

    I love your idea for using crates as center storage. I have bulletin boards on the top half of one of my walls, and I feel like the bottom half is just dead space. But I might be able to use crates and make it something usable!

    One last thing - even in my first year teaching this year, I learned quickly that anything I took home was a waste of time!! I have found stacks of graded papers that I apparently was going to hand back that haven't made it back to the room yet! Yikes!!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  12. I don't feel so bad about the "stuff" I have behind my Promethean board after seeing yours. No offense of course. I really want to join the 12-step program, but in February (maybe) the 7th/8th grades will be moving to a new wing. We were supposed to move right before Christmas break and now it's been moved to near the end of February. We'll see. I'll keep an eye on your steps so that when I move I'll be inspired to at least start off in a new and organized room. How long it will last...God only knows and I don't think He has a lot of confidence in me.

  13. I was laughing reading about your 12-step program, Hoarders, and walking like an egyptian. I had the same thoughts about my room! Yours isn't so bad though. All those bins will come in handy, soon!

    Kristen, I'm also using this as an excuse to buy more bins! It's a terrible habit!

  14. I am totally with you on the whole bringing stuff home to work on. I kept a large plastic tub and cardboard box in the corner of our living room for a good 5 months. Finally, the hubster was like "What are these doing here?" I'd totally forgotten they were there/blocked them out of my mind. We have an extra bedroom where I house all of my extra school stuff and I just recently parted with a bunch of crap from when I taught 5th grade. Overall, I think your room looks really good! Can't wait to see your progress :)

    Living A Wonderful Life

  15. I love that you have posted this! After spending TOO much time on this weekend, I decided to go to my own classroom this morning and begin the de-cluttering. Came home and found your blog! I'm glad to see there is someone out there just like me!! :)

  16. Oh, what a great project. I'm determined to get my classroom under control this year too!

  17. Hi! I just nominated you for the Liebster Award! Hop over to claim your award! Happy Blogging!


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