Optimum Organization: I Feel Like a New Teacher!

...because this is the least amount of stuff I've ever had in my classroom in 11 years of teaching! I can't wait to tell you all about it, but first I will pause to say:

Welcome to a new week of Optimum Organization!

If you would like to join in with our summer linky, here are the steps...

1. Write a blog post about one or both of the following:

An Organizational Idea
This can be something that you've used in the past that has worked well, or something you are developing this summer for next year. One idea is fine, as this will be a weekly linky party.


An Organizational Find
Share a find you scored when out and about shopping during the summer. Bins, binders, folders, containers...any of those items that make a huge difference in our classroom organization and management.

2. Grab a button for your blog post:

3. Link on up! You can join the party on Elizabeth's blog or mine...it's all the same party so come on over. We'll be hosting each Saturday this summer!
4. The Fine Print! We do have a couple of rules for this linky, as shown below. Please note that any links that do not follow the rules will be deleted regrettably.

The purpose of this linky party is to provide new and veteran teachers a chance to come together and share ideas on how to get organized for a new school year.  Please join us and share your advice and expertise, but not links to products please. Please share new posts in which you are participating in the party, not links to older posts or labels on your blog. Thanks so much for your understanding!

Ok, back to the cleaned out classroom (well, almost cleaned out!).

I know I've blogged and blogged about cleaning out and decluttering over the years. Every June, I feel a sense of achievement...like I've finally overcome the clutter for good and that's that.

Then I come back at the end of the summer wondering, "how do I still have SO much stuff?"

I think I'm finally figuring it out and getting down to the bare essentials. And I want to share a few things that have worked for me in really streamlining my classroom.

It Takes Time
By time I don't mean it eats up all your precious planning minutes, but rather how much time it takes to weed out materials. 

I started a couple of years back with all of my teaching books and files. I would pull out and donate the ones I didn't want and refile the stuff I thought I couldn't part with. 
Then I went back through them again. 

And again. 

And again!

I'm finally at the point this year where I look at my books and files and say to myself, if you haven't used it this year at all, get rid of it.

I am left with very little now. These are the papers I have left to either scan and save on my iPad or recycle...
I have a small shelf for my teaching books now and all of my files are being saved on my iPad and computer.

Make the Most of Technology
I never knew how digital my classroom would become in the relatively short time I've been teaching! My students can bring their own devices to school, we have laptops in class, and then there's my lovely iPad. From file storage to meeting notes to so many other things, it's my iPad that has truly helped me declutter.

Thanks to all of the wonderful stations we can listen to for free on Pandora (the Film Scores station is a favorite with my 5th graders)...

I've been able to get rid of my old stereo...
(it was a huge dust-collector)

And thanks to the technology of teacher files on Teachers Pay Teachers, I've been able to discard older games I've had for years in exchange for more modern and appealing ones that I can store digitally...

There Can Be Such a Thing at Too Much Storage!
You all know how much I adore my plastic storage. I can't even count how many times I've blogged about various items in my room and I certainly don't want to think about how much I spent on them! 
We all know storage is key to a well-organized classroom. But too many containers, bins, shelves, and all of that...

Well it just led to clutter in my classroom.

Of course I can't part with a lot of my storage. But I took a hard look at what I really needed to keep my room sorted. I donated tons of small containers and shelves to happy colleagues...
...and tried to just keep the essential pieces of storage my students and I truly need. 

Again, it's thanks to technology that I can really do this. Instead of storing tons of little game cards for activities I only use once a year during a particular unit, I just print out exactly what I need for a particular lesson and then recycle it when finished. It's stored on my computer and doesn't need to be in my classroom eating up space.

I have so much more to share about cleaning out my room and I hope to do so in the coming weeks as we wrap up our school year. 

Do you have some tips to share with us on cleaning out materials? I would love to read them if so!

Or link on up with us for Optimum Organization...
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Thanks for stopping by! :)


  1. I think I could do this if I would take the time to just do it. What tends to happen is, when I have to move rooms, I just start throwing stuff away because I get tired of packing it and moving it. (my principal rearranges the building often, which is really annoying). But, I don't do it methodically like you are talking about. I should. But I don't. I was hoping to have time during our post planning days this year to do it but then it was mostly meetings, so....it didn't happen. You are inspiring, though!!

    Collaboration Cuties

  2. I was so glad that I took the time to go through my room one cupboard/closet at a time this year. Everything is cleaned out and streamlined for a fresh start. Even though I am not moving, pretending you are changing rooms every few years is a good thing. I have been in the same room for 15 years, and if I hadn't done that my room would be featured on Hoarders:) I will be linking up next week (my new folders are not done yet:) because I love organizing!

    Middle School OCD

  3. Great post! I am in the same situation you were for years. I keep moving classroos and grade levels, so while I purge, I am afraid to let things go because I might need them later. Plus, we were recently told that we can not set out things that we do not want for others to take. I too found that too many containers allowed me to collect too many things! It's funny how having containers means that you feel you have to put something in them!


    Leaping into Teaching

  4. Great ideas! I have gone digital for a bunch of stuff, still holding onto things I probably don't need... I just got an iPad from Donor's Choose. So looking forward to adding that to the mix.

  5. This is awesome for many reasons! One, this is my first Linky Party to participate in...so hopefully I do this right! Second, every year is a battle for me to get organized! I have been in 5 different classrooms in 6 years due to switching grade levels or switching partners. I think every year I purge more stuff, but every year I seem to acquire more stuff too! This school year I got the most organized, thanks to TpT and Pinterest giving me tons of ideas and electronic files! I know when I unpack it all in August I'll be throwing out/ giving away even more stuff.

  6. I completely agree with you on getting rid of things you haven't used in a year. Even though I have changed grades more than once, I know that if an item has sat on the shelf one year, it probably will sit there again. Great advice!

  7. This sounds completely do-able (our school just gave each of us an iPad last year, and that scan app sounds like a pretty good way use for it)....but my inner control-freak just keeps me saying "what if?" What if my computer crashes and I lose all my files, even though I have a million thumb drives and an external hard drive. I realize the stuff on TpT can't be totally lost, but what about everything else? I find myself holding onto the safety of the hard-copies. How did you let yourself let that go???! Thanks for all the great ideas.

  8. What a great idea!! Could you put the classroom supply labels (with the apple icon) on tpt. I don't have a TN account.


  9. I can't wait to wrap up my report cards so I can start enjoying my final weeks with my fifth grade class AND start purging my classroom to head to 2/3 next year! I'll be able to get rid of so much STUFF! What a great feeling! :)

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  10. My goal is to get rid of my file cabinet my August! My fellow teacher think I am crazy but I never save extra worksheets or game cards. I'd loose them is reason number one, but I hate random papers all over too! I hope to link up soon!! yay! I love reading y'all's posts!

  11. You are my hero. I love all your technology ideas and have been subtly dropping hints to my headteacher about the necessity of an Ipad.

  12. Kristen, you are so smart! I am taking baby steps with my decluttering...but I really need to learn from you and just chunk it all. So happy to be partying with you again this week! Can't wait to read all of the link ups :)

  13. Can you tell me more about the scanning you do with your iPad? I have an iPad but I don't seem to use it that much for work. However, I did scan all my books for my new classroom library check out system for next year using the iPad. I'm excited about that :)

  14. WOW! All that cleaning out sounds great! We love cleaning out...we are like the opposite of hoarders! We just have to clean out something when we get to the end of the year! If we haven't used it in a while or at all, it goes!

    :) Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies

  15. I'm really excited to join the linky organization party! I can relate with your affinity to too many plastic organizers. I can to the realization last week when I realized I had 2 entire drawers in a large plastic drawer system dedicated to empty small plastic organizers just waiting to be used! You are inspiring me to purge...but then again...I may just keep them around for another year :)
    Short and Sassy Teacher

  16. You are speaking my language!!!!! It's perfection in a post from the button to the pictures. I love it all. Tell me what app you use to scan and file. I love that!!!

  17. I've been teaching Kindergarten for 34 years, in the same room! Last year I purged...and I still have a ton of stuff! Ive been saving it for my daughter who will begin her teaching career this fall in 2nd grade...we will go thru everything again this summer....what she doesn't take is going to goodwill!

    Your tips and ideas are going to be a great help!

    I am anxious to hear everyone's ideas...hopefully I can add a few too!

  18. I have an exciting year coming up, I will be in the fourth grade! I taught fourth grade 20+ years ago and here I am again. I am looking forward to updating the room and myself. I saw your "Homeworkopoly" on pinterest and was wondering about the directions to the game. Can someone point me in the right direction? I have looked all over this site. Thanks for your help.
    Mrs. S

    1. Hey Connie! Congrats on your return to fourth grade!! I don't use Homeworkopoly anymore, but I do still have the download and directions here: http://www.ladybugsteacherfiles.com/2010/12/homework-can-be-fun-with.html I hope you have a wonderful fourth grade year and a relaxing summer! :)

  19. Connie, here's a link to all the homeworkopoly info:

  20. Thanks so much for your kind comment on my blog! I've gone the opposite direction with the bins this year... We are having construction on my campus and I will be moving... wait for it... THREE times next school year!! I decided the easiest way to pack and unpack repeatedly was to put everything in bins, put the bins on shelves and then just be able to put the bins back in boxes. The dollar store loves me :)

  21. I am so glad that I found this! I have had the past year off from teaching and am as overwhelmed as EVER trying to get back in the swing of things! I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to reading some great ideas for getting me "in mode" for the new year!


  22. Which Scanner App do you use? There are several in the app store, and I'm not sure which is better for our purposes. Thanks!

  23. I love this idea of scanning the piles of paperwork! I would love to find a way whether it's an app for my ipad or other method to be able to organize all my unit files on the computer so I could do away with my MANY binders and file cabinet. Thanks for posting about this one, I'll be sure to check it out.

  24. Yay! I got to link up!

  25. I really need to do just what you're suggesting... purge. I have so many various files from the different grade levels I've taught, that I'm constantly afraid that I will throw something away for 2nd grade, and then I'll end up back there wishing I had that file. Thankfully I've been settled in 5th grade now for 3 years, but I'm the newest/youngest at my grade level so I know if we ever went down in amount of classes I'm the most likely to leave.

    I love the idea of going through my stuff and scanning my files so I store it digitally instead of in file cabinets.

    You've inspired me!

  26. Well, you inspired me to go through my teaching resources and I did find a lot that I could eliminate from my shelves but I did keep a few for my sub tub (that is what I posted about). I totally agree about the containers. I have an area in my classroom right now where I am storing containers! We were just cleaning out a desk of a student that left our school and found pieces to a Christmas activity - so I agree with you - just print out, use and recycle!


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