Two weeks ago, I finally stopped procrastinating and spent the afternoon organizing my bookshelf. For a bibliophile like myself this was actually a big undertaking. I’ve amassed quite the collection of books over the years and have been reluctant to let go of a single volume. As a result, I’d collected a lot of “literary clutter”. My shelves were full of books I had no intention of ever picking up again, and yet, couldn’t bring myself to get rid of either.
Eventually though, the mess got too big to ignore. So, I rolled up my sleeves and started sorting. This volume went back in the shelf, that volume went to Goodwill. A few incredibly bad reads went straight into the recycling bin. When it was finally over, I was amazed at how much better everything looked. Not only were my shelves more organized but the books themselves appeared more manageable and condensed.
Sometimes, we all need to prune away the unnecessary baggage in our lives.
Reorganizing Your Classroom
Right now, teachers everywhere are working hard to close the gaps made by learning loss. We can be proud of what we’ve accomplished, but in the process, we’ve also acquired a lot of unnecessary clutter. Maybe its tech tools that were crucial in 2020 but have lost their edge in the classroom. Maybe some of your teaching strategies didn’t prove as successful as you’d hoped. Regardless of what form it takes, now is a good time to start reorganizing your teaching workload.
Writing for Edutopia, Beth Pandolpho believes educators who feel overwhelmed or dissatisfied should start taking a more sustainable approach to teaching.
“Although there’s much about the current situation that we can’t solve, teachers can work to mitigate some of this stress by prioritizing what’s most important—predictability, care, community, and learning.”
The question now is, “What do we keep for our classrooms and what do we throw away?”
Here are a few things to consider while managing your teaching workload.
- Routine: If something serves your daily or weekly routine, you should probably keep it. Routines offer structure, and in a time of tension, it’s good for students to have something they can depend upon. This can be as simple as a daily check in where everyone shares a fun fact, or it could be an overarching lesson you proceed through one section at a time. Either way, a stable routine should not be discarded.
- Technology: There is a lot of new technology flying around that’s promising to make teaching easier. Test and see how useful it is for your classroom. If it proves a valuable and edifying addition to your lessons than keep it. If not, don’t bother holding onto it.
- Students: At the end of the day, what really matters is our students. Any tool or technique we keep should be focused on promoting their curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Be sure to make social-emotional learning a priority as well. Any exercise that gets them engaged with the content and fosters greater communication is one to keep.
Space to Grow
Stripping away unnecessary junk can be hard. It takes time and it forces you to confront some ideas which (in hindsight) probably weren’t the best. Still, once you’ve cleared space and let go of needless burdens, you and your students will feel more refreshed and energized than you have in a while. So, take some time to unclutter your teaching. There’s still a lot of school year left to go, and you deserve a moment to manage your teaching workload.
*Today’s image brought to you by Wikimedia Commons.