07/04/2021 / Education

Inspiration and Organization

July is here and with it the sweet days of summer! As I found more time to read, I revisited the popular book by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThis book really is a game changer and my only regret is that I didn’t seriously take time out a few years ago to use the “Kondo Technique” both at home and in my classroom. 
There are many quotes that stand out to me from this reading experience, but when I read,  “From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life” I was inspired. At the end of each school year, I feel like it’s time to hit the reset button in order to relax, as well as move forward. Thank you Marie for the jump start I needed! 

If you are like me, I ‘ll bet you’ve already started letting thoughts of the new school year creep into your mind. This is simply the nature of being a teacher- our minds never rest from thinking about our classrooms and school. I wanted to find a way to ease into a new school year without feeling frantic as summer days wind down. So, I have decided to dive in and create a plan that will help alleviate feeling overwhelmed once the first week of school is on the horizon, while still having time to enjoy summer.

 In my planning process I like to start with a list. The easiest way for me to take note of my ideas is using Google Keep, a free note taking, list creating, and task manager.  It can be accessed using the mobile app or from any tab in your Google account on the right hand side of your screen. 

What I love about using Google Keep is that I can use it on the go, meaning if an idea hits me while shopping, in a conversation, or even relaxing I can simply tap into the app on my phone and type in my ideas. Google Keep has many uses such as notes, reminders, and to make lists. It is easy to organize using the color option, similar to using colored file folders in a file cabinet. You can keep many lists and name each one for its unique purpose. I have a list for “Book Suggestions”, “Writing Prompts”, “Classroom Ideas” and for this current purpose, “Organizing Home Office” and “Planning for BTS”. 

My first priority is to organize my home office.  Working from my Google Keep list, I then use my calendar to select specific days and times for each task on my list. This will prompt  me to create boundaries, helping to not let any one task become overwhelming. I’m also using the smaller tasks and including them as “mini-tasks” each day. Making dates with tasks also helps keep me on track to accomplish my goals. 

 I stared with my first "date", cleaning out my hanging files in my two drawer cabinet. These hanging files have served me well, clearly labeled and easy to use as I save papers throughout the school year(s). However, they are bursting at the seams and the time has come to keep only the items that will be useful moving into the new school year. For instance, instead of saving several copies of student work that I kept to use as an exemplar,  I need to keep only one or two. Also, anything that is saved in my digital folders really only needs one master copy, if any, so I discard any multiple copies to help save room.   

As I go through pulling, sorting, and shredding papers, this is also the time to replace any worn folders. I like to use basic hanging organizer file folders from Amazon. These folders come in an assortment of colors that helps in organizing by subject area. These folders are relatively inexpensive and durable needing to be replaced every few years at most. 

It is rejuvenating to see how much space is created by eliminating unnecessary papers from each of the folders. I am also being more mindful of how I label my hanging folders, choosing this time to create folders by main topic then using manilla folders for sub-topic lesson materials. 

Having completed my first major organizing task, I moved on to my first mini-task. I decided to designate a few bins by my desk to highlight professional texts I want to read. Having them in clear view is a daily reminder of one of my reading goals. To accomplish this, I purchased book bins, similar to what I use in my classroom. While I order the colorful assortment for my classroom, the black large book bins are great for my home office shelves by my desk. 

It is a great feeling of accomplishment to check tasks off my list. I feel a renewed sense of creativity! Stay tuned for more tips and tricks for a success organizational journey! 

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Kathleen Palmieri

Kathleen Palmieri is a National Board Certified Teacher, a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Learning Facilitator, and a fifth grade educator in upstate New York. She reviews professional texts and is an educator researcher and writer. As a writer with a passion for pedagogy, Kathleen's focus is on education practices, and strategies, as well as her own experiences as an educator. Educator well being is a priority, thus the name "Mindful Teaching Moments". Mindfulness along with knowledge is important. She has presented at math conferences, writing workshops, actively collaborates in literacy projects, and networks globally.