Saturday, August 8, 2015


I have been attempting to get my room ready for the new school year and I have come to the realization that I simply have too much stuff.   Education, like fashion,  is cyclical and, if you are in it long enough, you see the things that you did 15 years ago come around again.  There is usually a new name and a small tweak, but the bones are the same.  I was in a meeting at the end of last year and one of our new administrators was talking about using the "gradual release of responsibility instructional model."  Not recognizing the phrase, I googled it as quickly as possible--only to learn that it is essentially just a combination of many excellent teaching methods:  scaffolded instruction, collaboration, Madeline Hunter.  And combining a variety of teaching methods to maximize instruction is something that good teachers do on a daily basis, throughout the day.

When the next new thing comes around, I am reluctant to just toss the old thing out just because it isn't new.  Change in the classroom is good--lessons should be looked at every year to see ways in which they can be improved upon.  Teaching is an art and artists are rarely satisfied with their creations--there are always little tweaks to make it better, a section that just isn't quite right, a desire to make good into great and the great into amazing.  The kids are different too--which means the lessons have to adjusted to meet their needs.  But when it comes to getting rid of manipulatives, books, materials, etc., it can be hard.  Because that manipulative is perfect for teaching adding positive and negative numbers, and that anthology has a fabulous story in it that the kids love to read.  So I save.  And 20 years later, the room is full.

So, I have been making some tough choices and discarding things that I haven't used in 7+ years.  Rather than keep 30 copies of an anthology because it has one great story in it, I have saved one--and I can read the story aloud.  Sets of chapter books that I collected but don't really use because there are not enough days in the school year to have them read all the novels I want them to can be given away to the kids to take home.  Testing materials that practice the old way of testing with the old standards--they can go.

My cabinets have more space now and my new materials---task cards from TPT, new literature books, etc--have a permanent home.  The feeling as I was doing it was bittersweet, but, in the long run, I know it was a good choice.

And now I am going to move on to my closets at home.  :)

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