Even with the best intentions, some people aren’t able to attain or maintain a clutter-free classroom because of simple mistakes they don’t even know they are making! These simple mistakes teachers make derail them or prevent them from reaching their goal. Read below to get a list of common decluttering mistakes so you can be sure not to make them too!
If you are really serious about decluttering and organizing your classroom, then check out this Classroom Organization workshop. It walks teachers step-by-step through the decluttering and organization process and empowers to take back control over their classroom.
20 Mistakes Teachers Make When They Declutter Their Classroom
Below are 20 mistakes teachers make when they declutter their classroom.
1. They don’t have a clear purpose or goal.
The first mistake teachers make when decluttering on this list is they don’t have a clear goal. Before you start to declutter, it’s essential to identify a clear goal that you hope to accomplish. This goal will depend on your specific needs. It can be a very specific short-term goal, a more general long-term goal, or a combination of both.
2. They don’t have a plan.
It’s so important to sit down and create an action plan before beginning. This initial time investment will prevent you from wasting even more time later on in the process. If you feel overwhelmed just thinking about a plan, then check out this Classroom Organization Workshop that will walk you step by step through everything you need to do to get and maintain a clutter-free classroom.
3. They don’t change their mindset before beginning.
In addition to setting goals and creating a plan, it’s incredibly important to change your mindset before beginning to declutter. You need to be ready to part with your belongings and attack this task in a cold heartless fashion. Jokes aside, it’s important to be in a good place where you are ready to throw things away and get rid of them.
4. They procrastinate.
They keep putting off decluttering because they are overwhelmed with the task in front of them. This goes back to creating a good plan that you feel confident in.
5. They have unreasonable expectations.
Some people think they can do it all in a day or even a week. Of course the timing depends on your goals, but it’s important to remember that you, teacher friend, are short on time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. But the important thing is to get started! Use this classroom decluttering challenge to get the ball rolling.
6. They don’t give themselves time to collect all of the tools and supplies they need ahead of time.
Some people rush into decluttering without taking the time to prepare and make sure they have everything they need. There is nothing worse than not having the right tools to complete a task. You don’t want your decluttering time to be interrupted or stalled, especially since you are short on time. You’ll need large garbage bags, cleaning supplies, a timer, amongst other things.
7. They try to do it all at once.
This is one of the most common mistakes teachers make when decluttering and organizing their classroom. They try to bang it all out during a prep period. This results in a torn apart classroom when students get back from special, completely unfinished, and worse off then it was before. Instead, break up the process into smaller chunks before or after school.
8. They try to do it completely by themselves.
Decluttering a classroom, especially one that has 20 years worth of stuff, is not a small feat. Don’t be afraid to employ the help of family, friends, colleagues, and students.
9. They start with items that are important to them or have sentimental value.
If the first category of things you try to get rid of are incredibly important to you, it is going to be difficult for you to make any progress and you will likely train yourself to keep things rather than give them away. Instead, start with a category you don’t have any sentimental value in. You’ll get more and more comfortable with getting rid of your stuff the more you do it.
10. They try to organize before decluttering.
It’s so important to go through the process of decluttering and then the process of organizing. Don’t waste your time organizing stuff that you are going to get rid of anyway!
11. They give up before they’re done.
Don’t get discouraged if it’s taking longer than you had anticipated. Keep going and don’t give up! Refer back to this post about how to declutter your classroom to reignite your passion for decluttering.
12. They prioritize perfection over progress.
Don’t stress yourself out during this process striving for perfection at all times. You are making moves to improve your classroom environment so you can better serve your students. That’s amazing! Keep doing the work and keep moving forward!
13. They get sidetracked looking at their things and reminiscing over them.
You found a box of photos from 2012 of the sweetest class you have ever had. Instead of looking at the photos and interrupting your plan, put them off to the side and look at them when you are not in the middle of your decluttering process. Keep going, teacher friend!
14. They overthink everything.
Should I keep it? Should I donate it? Am I better off trying to sell it? Make a quick, firm decision and make it happen. Think about how much better your life is going to be without so much stuff.
15. They keep too much.
Remember what I said earlier, you need to be ready to part with your belongings and attack this task in a cold heartless fashion. Think about your dream classroom. Does it have the things you are keeping inside of it?
16. They throw out too much.
Whoops! You threw away important documentation you needed for an upcoming IEP meeting. Be sure to not just dump everything into the trash!
17. They buy more stuff.
When they go through the process of getting rid of stuff, they are bringing more things into the classroom. It sounds counterintuitive, right? Consider not purchasing any new items until you have gone through and inventoried what you already own.
18. They don’t throw out, donate, or sell clutter right away.
They do all of this work of purging stuff, but they don’t follow through on sending it to the places they belong. Now they are left with a jam-packed car of things to bring to the local donation center, which just moved the clutter from your classroom to your personal space. Instead, get rid of it right away!
19. They don’t have a plan for how they will maintain the space after they are done.
Woohoo! You have a clutter-free classroom! Congrats! But wait… a week later it’s starting to resemble the classroom you had before all of your hard work. This is why it’s important to make a plan that will keep your classroom clean so your hard work won’t go to waste. Once you make this plan, stick to it and you’ll find that your classroom remains decluttered!
20. They don’t enlist the help of their students to maintain the space.
The final mistake teachers make when decluttering on this list is not involving their students in helping with classroom responsibilities to maintain a clean and tidy space. This is crucial!
When you finish decluttering your classroom, perhaps consider listing tasks students can do. Think about creating task cards using index cards and place them in an index card box labeled: To Do. Place an additional index card box next to it labeled: Been Done. As children have time, they can pick a card from the to do box, complete the task, and move it to the “Been Done” box. Once all the cards have been completed, move them all back to the to-do box.
A second strategy for getting students involved in the maintaining process (which is one of my favorite strategies of all time) is called Find It and Fix It. The concept is simple. Children scurry about like little worker bees, and moments later the classroom looks like it should be preserved behind glass because it is too perfect to touch. It’s seriously magical!
In closing, we hope this post was helpful! If you are ready to declutter and organize your classroom once and for all, then check out this Classroom Organization Workshop for teachers. It will walk you step-by-step through the process of organizing and decluttering your classroom.