Declutter, as defined by Dictionary.com is a verb (used with or without object):
1. to remove mess or clutter (from a place)
2. to organize and prioritize.
While decluttering is mostly self-explanatory, I think of decluttering in terms of breathing space, reflective practices, and joy…
Why joy? Because of the concept introduced by Marie Kondo, the Japanese guru of organizing living spaces. Her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” introduces a few useful ideas of dealing with extra stuff in our lives.
In a nutshell, Marie invites us to examine who we are and what we love. She encourages us to keep only those items that “spark joy”, those that create a positive emotional response. Moreover, the process of deciding what sparks joy includes:
1) taking a good look of all items in the same category (do we really need 13 trays for painting?)
2) touching each item before deciding to keep it or discard it (read: adding sensory input)
3) evoking a sense of gratefulness for having and using the item in the past and letting go (thus turning cleaning up into a mindful activity)
4) “cherishing who you are now“, seeing your space as reflection of the present, not the past.
If you have read the book, you know that some of her advice might not be suitable for you personally. Maybe you don’t want to thank you socks for keeping your feet warm. However, when it comes to serious reorganizing, it is helpful to have a system that prevents analysis paralysis.
What does it mean for the process of tidying up the classrooms? It means that you would have to think about things that you love and want to see everyday in your teaching space. It also means that you have to take an honest look at things that surround you because of another teacher’s legacy, a habit, or… simply lack of time to think about them. They just are… there.
When your values are clear in your mind, they are easy to reflect in your environment. Let’s create some breathing space that sparks joy, together!