Teacher Tips for the End of the School Year: Trash It or Stash It?

Teacher Tips:  Trash It or Stash It?


Is there too much clutter in your classroom?  Are your classroom closets/cupboards crammed? Are you searching for extra boxes to pack materials?  Do you hoarde materials you haven’t used for years “just in case” you might need them?  If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it may be time to declutter.


It's the end of the school year, the perfect time for teachers to get organized and ask that all important question: stash it or trash it? Here are some important teacher tips for the end of the school year that can help answer this critical end of year conundrum.

  1.  Teachers often save everything, instead of saving what will be used. We are afraid to throw something out because our students might need it. If you have junk drawers and containers of unused or unusable basic supplies (dried out markers, partially used notebooks, brad fasteners, broken crayons, ripped/faded construction paper, and those extra big binders), pass them along, recycle them, or discard them. 
  1.  Books and magazines are central to every classroom, but some are outdated, boring, and/or worn-out. If you or the students no longer read certain books or magazines, pass them along or recycle them. Do the same with books that contain outdated or obsolete information and in-service training materials that you haven’t used in over five years.
  1.  Too many bulletin board displays and cute inspirational posters are overwhelming. In fact, heavily decorated classrooms may affect children’s ability to focus and learn.  Researchers Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman of Carnegie Mellon University found that “children were more distracted by the visual environment, spent more time off task, and demonstrated smaller learning gains when the walls were highly decorated than when the decorations were removed.” 

The best bulletin boards display student work or assist students with what they’re learning. If you have countless themed borders and seasonal displays, share some with colleagues. Recycle faded posters or those that don't resonate with students.   

  1.  Information clutter can be burdensome too. At the end of the year, you probably don’t feel like creating online storage, but it can be a good practice to start. Paper “must saves” can be scanned and organized into folders. Outdated paper worksheets that don’t engage students should be recycled as well as multiple copies of the same worksheets. If you haven’t used something in the last two years and don’t plan to use it in the next year, perhaps it should go.

It's the end of the school year. Time to take out the trash and get ready to start fresh on the first day of school.

Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity



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