Clutter in the Classroom

In the last few days I have resumed de-cluttering my classroom. I don’t want to leave the room full of stuff no-one wants.

A ruthless weeding of the bookshelves has left them looking more appealing. Most of the remaining books I have bought myself, our budget having been tiny for many years. The bookshelf and filing cabinet were originally from home, come to think of it! Filing cabinets aren’t used much now and I’m gradually emptying this one.

I have ended up with my car boot full of old books destined for the book fridge – a gap-filler project in the city featuring a re-purposed glass-fronted double fridge on an empty section. Whenever I go past there is someone adding books to the fridge or taking books out. Someone will like my offerings: the literature reference books (superseded by online search engines only for some), classics, and general fiction and non-fiction.

Today, I started on the shelves under the whiteboard. I opened a ring-binder which was carefully ordered into sections and once used for planning programmes for my classes. I hadn’t opened it for a while, and I was astounded, as if looking at it for the first time. All that work.

A couple of filing boxes were next for the chop. Full of thinking strategies – when we focused on metacognition – and literacy project material, reading strategies and enquiry projects. Hours of work, planning, meetings, course material and school-wide professional development. We’re on to different things now such as wellbeing and assessment and data and appraising our performance. Where has all that learning gone? Have we simply moved on? Is it refined into current practice?

It’s in the recycling now.

Our meeting after school today was to hear from the architectural team putting together a plan for the future development of the school. Our wish-list includes cultural and performance spaces, a shared garden, social and learning spaces, sustainable energy sources…all things I have for ages hoped might be possible. It reminds me of an inspirational book I read in the ’80s or ’90s by NZ educationalist Charmaine Pountney who had a vision for a school centred in its community, sustained by an organic garden, and run by the students and adults together. It will be interesting to see how our plans go – if I can I still say “our” when I have moved on.

I am looking forward to hearing about it all.