Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of cleaning out classrooms of people who have retired, quit, or just moved on and I absolutely loathe cleaning. That's why I live in a condo. I don't want to spend days cleaning. I want to be outdoors and enjoying life. One of the most annoying things that I have had to do for teachers after they have flown the coop is clean up what they leave behind. Some of you know that you are leaving. You might have known for months or just decided on a whim. No matter how or why you are leaving, don't leave your mess behind.
I've changed schools twice, and moved rooms more than that. When I knew I was moving schools, I started bringing home a box of books each day starting in April. I carefully put these away in my closet until one day, I had nothing left in my classroom but the furniture that I started with. For another move, I had to get a moving van and haul it all away in one day. For that move I spent my my first day clearing out all the garbage of the 20 years of the former teacher's stuff that was left behind. There was so much garbage. No one wants to spend their first day doing that, especially brand new teachers who have all these visions of what they want their classrooms to look like. And you know there is never enough time during preplanning to do all the things you want. So it's a great pay it forward to leave your room as clean as possible.
I'm not the only one who has had to do this. Other friends have had too and I've even enlisted my daughter on occasion. What's been left behind is more trash than treasure. People say I don't have to do this, but I would like you to imagine the next resident of your room as a new teacher. They don't need your stuff, especially your files. They don't need all the copies that you think they might need. I am good at finding a home for stuff and I am excellent purging and throwing things away. I just don't need more practice at this.
When you leave angry at administration, they don't actually clean your room, your former colleagues do. When you retire, there is no one who wants your purple mimeographed worksheets. In fact, some new teachers don't even know what they are. They don't have fond memories of smelling freshly mimeographed copies like teachers my age do. When you move on, we get it you are tired. We are too. If you absolutely aren't going to take things away with you, try giving items to your students, they might like mementos. Recycle! Hold a teacher giveaway. Enlist students to help you clean it since they might need community service hours.
Regardless whether you are moving or not, you've heard of spring cleaning right? Spring is a great time to organize and purge. Think about tackling a drawer a day or a bookshelf a day. Sooner than later it will be the end of the year and you won't have a big mess to pack away for summer or your big move.