Chipping Away – April 27, 2016

Would you believe this is the mess in my classroom? I needed everything here at one point, now it has become a self-reproducing organism that continues to grow exponentially every day!

I know I suffer slightly from the affliction of hoarding. I once needed a T.A. to assist me in throwing stuff away. He went to my teacher desk drawer and pulled out each item and provided an argument for throwing them away, one by one. He held up a plastic handcuff key that someone dropped from a Halloween costume. “Why are you saving this?” he asked. He said, “No one is going to come into your room and ask if you’ve seen his plastic handcuff key.”

“What is this for?” he asked about a single earring that I had tucked away for safekeeping until a thankful student claimed it. “Someone lost it in my room. They might remember they left it here.”

“How long have you had it in here?”

Defeated, I admitted, “Two years.”

“Do you really think she is going to come back two years later and ask for it?” He proceeded to throw it away. Each item was painful to discard: someone cared for another person enough to consider them and think of a unique item to buy her, possibly with his own money that he worked hard for. I might need this handout again, even though I have it saved electronically in ten different places. (My computer storage is another project; one that I do not have enough time to discuss today!) Someone gave me that card. He took the time to write that special sentiment to me. What if he dies and I want to save this memento of him and remember the fun times we had in class?

“It’s a Snoopy teacher valentine card. The kid just signed it. Do you remember who he is?”

“No,” I confessed.”But still…”

So it should come at no surprise that I collect a variety of papers and other artifacts in my teaching and coaching. I have two accountant’s boxes full of student work in case I decide to ever shell out the $3,000 required for National Board Certification. Not good work, either, I should add. I have stuff like torn-out sheets of lined notebook paper with pencil-scribbled warm-ups, such as

“The happiest day at school was last year. My mom brought me lunch from McDonald’s. I was happy because the fries were still warm. My friends were jealous. My mom is nice, sometimes.”

When my blog says I was working on organization one day, please know that this is not a one-and-done thing. It takes me much time and consideration to comb through the expansive “resources” I have collected, gather enough nerve to throw a few away, and then work out some kind of plan for dealing with, organizing, processing, making folders, filing folders, and sorting the rest. My boss says organizing is part of our job; we must have our resources ready for the teachers and colleagues who need them. After next month is over, I might begin going through my computer…



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