Should I keep it or should I throw it away? This question plagues so many teachers who work hard on classroom organization.
Below are 35 things you can throw away from your classroom today. This list will improve your classroom organization AND your teacher-life! PLUS–grab a FREE printable checklist to help you get and stay organized.
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Why Is Classroom Organization So Important for Teachers?
Classroom organization is about so much more than just having Pinterest and Instagram looking classrooms. Disorganization costs you extra time and money!
Two things that teachers need to protect and save as much as possible.
Knowing what items to toss and what items to keep isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being more efficient as a teacher.
Classroom Clutter: What to Keep, What to Clear Out
Each category of items below offer suggestions for things you can clear out from your classroom. Creating more space and better classroom management systems will make you a more happy and organized teacher.
Office & Classroom Supplies:
- Those 1 million paper clips and binder clips (do you really need that many?!)
- Extra folders, including file folders
- Unused packs of paper
- Broken crayons and dried up markers
- Old calendars
- Nubby colored pencils
- Chewed on erasers and broken pencils
Teachers love to save money so we tend to really hoard classroom and office supplies. But having an excessive stockpile of these items makes it harder to use them efficiently.
So throw the excess out and only keep what you KNOW you will use immediately.
- Worksheets and extra copies of black line masters
- Workbooks with half-used pages (this happens a lot when a student transfers in or out of your class)
- Outdated bulletin board supplies
- Inspirational or learning posters (only keep what you WILL use within that school year)
- Unused textbooks (check with your school’s administration on this first!)
- Lesson plan materials from previous teachers that you are immediately using
- Old lesson plan books (starting fresh each year keeps you relevant and your students engaged! Don’t just use the exact same lessons each year!)
For me, the rule of thumb on purging learning materials is: Am I going to use this within this school year? If not, then I donate or toss.
For this area of classroom organization, you can set up boxes in obscure places and label with “Donate,” “Sell,” and “Keep.”
At the end of the school year or the end of each semester, make it a priority to get rid of those items!
Want more classroom organization hacks for teachers? Check out this post: Seven Simple Organization Hacks for Teachers
Miscellaneous Teacher & Student Supplies:
- Old Play dough
- Snacks that weren’t eaten (Yeah get rid of that 4-gallon sized jar of cheese puffs from Costco!)
- Games that aren’t being played with anymore
- Manipulatives for math and grammar that are outdated.
- Student Gifts or prizes that weren’t used. Needed to buy a pack of 30 even though you only had 27 students? Just give those 3 extra to a teacher friend’s children.
- Professional Development materials that you don’t use.
- Artwork and cards from students
Many times, we hoard items because we grow emotionally attached to them. This is especially true with sentimental items like artwork and cards from students.
I keep a small wall area for cards and letters from students, then at the end of the year, I purge these items. There’s no need to have guilt about doing this.
If you want to save those extra extra special artwork projects from students, create ONE small gallery area or get tubs like these to hold special supplies.
Otherwise, they are just taking up much needed space in your classroom and life.
Odd Materials & STEM Supplies:
- Empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls
- Old egg cartons
- Craft Supplies like popsicle sticks and cotton balls
- Art supplies like paintbrushes and old paint
- Glue sticks and containers with just a “little bit left”
- Torn tote or cloth bags
- Stained fabric and old t-shirts or aprons
Yep, I can hear you now! “Wait, Tanya…we teachers can use these supplies again. Why should we throw them away?”
The problem with this category is that teachers HOARD these supplies in excess without a system to keep them organized.
There’s a big difference between having one small box with STEM supplies and being a packrat who saves tons of stained, soiled, and used items because you think you “might need it one day.”
If you don’t have a set date, plan, or system for keeping these materials organized in your classroom, then you are better off clearing them out.
Books & Reading Materials:
I have a confession to make: I am a big-time book and magazine hoarder! As a teacher who LOVES reading and literacy centers, I tend to go overboard with stockpiling these items.
So books get a category all by themselves. Start purging if you have an abundance of:
- Picture books with ripped pages
- Magazines that are more than 2 years old
- Chapter books that your kids aren’t reading anymore
- Books with excessive writing or highlighting in them
- Old and outdated reading materials
- Those 50 million bookmarks that your students won’t use! Use these kind of bookmarks instead!! They can be used all year long and will not become clutter.
- Reading log worksheets
Want to know what chapter books are great for 4th & 5th grade students? This post has the info you need: The 10 BEST Novel Studies for 4th & 5th Graders.
Tips for Taming the Clutter
Melanie Unger, a teacher and author has a wonderful book called Organized Teacher, Happy Classroom. This is not a sponsored endorsement of her book; I just LOVE her tips on staying organized as a teacher.
She uses an acronym that will help you when knowing what to throw away in your classroom. It’s called R.O.L.L.
- R–Repeat “Do I really need more than one of these?”
- O–Outdated “Is this an item I use regularly?”
- L–Level “Do these materials match the grade level I’m currently teaching?”
- L–LOVE It “How much do I truly appreciate this item?” (Basically the teacher version of Marie Kondo’s “Does it spark joy?”)
This simple ROLL method helps me know what and when to purge every time!
Your Free Decluttering Checklist
Grab this free decluttering checklist for teachers that will make the process of getting organized easier for you!
There’s no email sign-up required. But you will need access to internet and Google Drive to get the printable.
Enjoy: FREE DECLUTTERING CHECKLIST
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