ProTip Wednesday: 7 Things to Toss When Decluttering Your Classroom


The largest dilemma I had at the end of the year was not my impending summer plans, but whether I should keep the Valentine’s Day teddy bear or #1 Teacher mug from students. Or how my set of emergency beakers for on-the-fly demos suddenly grew to 20 beakers (and growing…). We now know what to keep—so what should we toss?

To Toss: (May be most helpful with good music and a friend)

1. If it looks like it went through battle

Markers, crayons, colored pencils, construction paper, binders—if it looks like a truck ran it over twice, then it’s probably best to throw it out. (via Responsive Classroom)


2. Things with missing parts

Board games, lab equipment, math activities, books — if the reason it’s missing a part is due to your class size, be sure to put that into the “donate” pile for a teacher who has different class sizes than yours. (via Responsive Classroom)

Image via Learning Things

Image via Learning Things

3. Unread books

I brought in my entire childhood library when I started teaching, but unfortunately, some of my middle schoolers didn’t share the same enthusiasm for them as I did. You can pass on those books to another teacher or donation center to clear out the way for books with greater circulation. (Cue: tears) (via Responsive Classroom)

Image via New York Times

Image via New York Times

4. If it can be found online

I’m all for binders and paper resources because I’m still attached to my highlighter and pen. However, if it can be digitized or stored online, then it’s a good time to transition into online storage.

Gradeable is incredibly helpful in helping you transition to a paperless classroom and storing paper assignments online easily – just scan and it’s saved!

Image via McKay Alumni

Image via McKay Alumni

5. Things that do not fit into conventional student storage

You know those extra bendable rulers or emergency name tags you keep for the “one day” situations— just toss it. According to Liam at Teaching with a Twist of Liam, if it doesn’t fit into a student’s pencil box, tool box, or a back pack, then it’s not necessary to keep.

6. The growing pile of student gifts

Although my collection of stuffed animals has grown since teaching, I realized that they were starting to take over bed space, shelf space, and overall home space. But we all remember who gave it to us and what it meant so it’s a hard decision to toss these sentimental items— then again, the #1 Teacher mug can’t live forever on your desk. (via Teaching with a Twist of Liam)

Image via Travelasaurus

Image via Travelasaurus

7. Things that were not touched in 2 years

I think I still have a life-sized Christmas stocking from Student Council days (Are my StuCo advisors out there? You feel the pain of hoarding resources.), but I haven’t touched it recently. Anything that falls under this category should be soundly tossed.

Don’t forget that there is some first year teacher out there that would love your old things, especially if you transitioned grade levels. Other donation options include:

  • local day care centers
  • after-school programs
  • homeless shelters
  • Goodwill

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