Sorting through the stuff

There is a room in my basement that we had finished as a possible bedroom for one of the girls or an office for me. I’ve used it as an office but it’s too far away from the family action. I can’t concentrate when I’m wondering what’s going on in the rest of the house. I’d much rather work at the kitchen table or on the porch. For a while, the girls kept the sewing machine set up in this room and used the space to work on various crafts. This past winter, we cleaned it out to serve as a temporary bedroom while some work was being done in the house. Since my daughter moved back into her own room, the “office” has been mostly empty. We’ve all been wondering what to do with it. Here’s what it looks like now.

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I started by filling the shelf with things I brought home from school. It’s not much: the first few Math units to look over, some Readers’ Workshop lessons, the book on the Daily 5 I never had a chance to finish, and the writing samples from my rising second graders. Also, my rarely used school laptop which I have vowed to utilize more thoughtfully this year. Then, I gathered up the things that my girls were cleaning out of their rooms that I thought might be fun or useful at school. Now, I’m starting to add the things I find on sale that fit my organization plan. Today, I’ll add the stack of books I found at my local library book sale.

At the other end of the room is a shelf with supplies for the family: pens, paper, folders, ink. Sure, I raid these shelves for school all the time. The rest of the shelves are filled with my books and binders. I’ve been ruthless about purging and got rid of a lot of things I don’t think I’ll need anymore. I hate the idea of books or supplies horded away and not being used. At the start of the summer, I sorted through my old College Writing resources. I figure I won’t be teaching that class for a while at least and, if I do teach it again, I’ll be using different, more up to date, texts. I kept only the timeless resources – the grammar and style handbooks that I still go to when I’m doing academic writing. The rest went to the library book sale or the recycle bin as appropriate.

I’m trying to be organized and streamlined this school year. I don’t want chaos. I don’t want to hold on to things without a plan. We have such limited space in Room 102 that I want to fill it thoughtfully and leave lots of space for the children to make it their own. So, I’m starting with the home office. If it’s useful, it is given a space. If not, it’s out.

Next month, I’ll sort through everything again before bringing it to school. My plan is to stick to my plan. I’m actually making sketches of my classroom with little descriptions of why things are going where they are going and how each part of the room can be utilized throughout the day. The Math corner will also be a place to read non-fiction and work with a partner. The library will be a comfortable, quiet, independent workspace. The Writing Center will have all the supplies for every genre of writing and be a place that encourages collaboration.

Having this space in the office to collect allows me to make thoughtful decisions about things before I bring them to school. It’s part of the plan which, simply stated is “Look to the end goal”. Writing about it is part of the plan to keep me focused.

Hope you are having an organized summer!

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