cleaning out your educational drawer
by Judianne Jayme
Everyone has that drawer they toss everything into, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. As an educator, I hear new ideas and suggested practices all the time. Some, I’ll implement immediately, some I’ll “save for later” and throw into a pile that I most likely will forget about.
Only now, in my fourth year of teaching, have I begun to truly clear out that drawer. In the physical sense, it means sorting four bookcases of resources that I have had the honour of inheriting from the previous teacher. She was gracious to leave them with me, and I’ve had an adventure in trying new things each year. The challenge was when they became a security blanket. I felt safe knowing I had eight resources to teach fractions with, knowing I only actively use three. So now I have clutter, and even more current ideas and practices are coming my way. What’s an educator to do?
I began de-cluttering by filtering the resources I was 100 per cent sure of. I then donated unused resources to my fellow intermediate teachers. Anything extra, I sent down to our Resource Teacher to store or discard.
I also do this with my metaphorical drawer, which arguably is a more treacherous space than physical clutter. This is where I have the potential to become set in my practices, hesitant to try new programs. This is where I store ideas and experiences. Ideas can range from “I know that the students the past two years liked this, so I’m can expect that these students should do well too,” to “this bombed that one time, so I won’t try it again.”
As an educator, I need to be flexible in my career. I need to cater to the needs of the students, not considering what’s more convenient. In order to truly work smarter, not harder, you need to understand the core needs of your students. Each new term, I learn to let go and to be open-minded with studies and suggested practices.
Parent tip: Clean-up time!
This practice of cleaning out the physical and metaphorical drawers is applicable to any lifestyle or career. Children pick up the habits of their parents. Do you find yourself leaving clutter around? I, myself, am guilty of this and, as mentioned above, I am only now going through and letting go of what could be useful to someone else.
Take time to clear out your clutter, both in your workspace, and in your head. Your children will certainly notice this habit and, when encouraged, they may see the importance and value of being open to new things, and making room for new ideas, practices, and challenges in their lives.
Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.