Marie Kondo and Me, Teacher Appreciation Week SOS!


Hopefully touching your hearts on Teacher Appreciation Week 2019!

Just a lot of teaching stuff! I give up. SOS. Worst organizer, ever, and I’m moving again. Oh boy.

Dearie me, I am a late bloomer as usual. I said feh until now about the crazy deal about organizing and tidying up. Morgan told me about Marie Kondo. She and her mama have been watching “YouTube” videos and all of a sudden, Barbie Town is shut down, stuffies and bags of baby toys donated to preschool, that sort of thing. But when Rebecca told me Morgan was organizing her drawers and folding everything, I really was pretty darn impressed.

I kept hearing snippets about it, but I was too busy hunting through stacks of teaching stuff in several remaining closets. Long gone are class sets of jump ropes, xylophones etc. Remaining? Favorite children’s classics, reading manipulatives, treasure box junk, art materials, you know what I mean.

Added to that, teaching antiques besides me, including bells, slates, ink wells, readers and a couple things I never saw before or since, like a first Big Book. Standing manipulative chalk board, and my McGuffey’s, dreamy.

Also, I get it, I’m seeing categories now, framed funny school sheet music, all my school class photos from kindergarten up.

Oh boy, my high school yearbook, marriage bouquet, family collages. Crates of loose photos. (Last time I looked all day, and tossed four photos).

Grad school papers. Framed awards on floor in corner. Stacks of my Seminar materials and professional books. Teaching evaluations. Early editions of my new book. It seems endless, because it is. With all I’ve given away, I still have loads of teaching stuff, resources, jokes, experiments, just a lot of stuff!

I admit. Too much stuff. How come I keep cleaning out and get nowhere?

I have to get organized. I think I found my guru. I’ve been blaming my creative curse on my style type, “Concrete Random”. I keep cleaning out but not getting anywhere. I really need to watch the purse video later. I have dumped it out several times recently but it’s still so heavy I need a luggage cart. I have the folding down pretty well, and love the ceremonial mindful rituals.

I use a lot of blue rubber bands. I still have DVDs we don’t watch. Too much paper. Lost passwords and whole files and once I deleted my entire book. Lost a number of BAM blogs, too and now I think 27 are sitting in drafts, waiting. But this one happened. I’ve been thinking a lot about what to say to all of you on “Teacher Appreciation Week”. And it occurs to me that nearly all teachers I’ve ever taught with had lots of stuff, too! Bottom line is, there’s always a lesson waiting to happen, a teachable moment, even with so much online and we need to be ready.

During the years I made “Housecalls” it was fun to work in so many classrooms, all differently organized, all better than I ever did. Before Marie Kondo, I met a lot of teachers who just knew how to be tidy, organized and modeled it well for the kids. First week strategies made the difference, likely, with reinforcement along the way.

But I wonder, are these teachers so neat at home too? Why do I have so much clutter, from our travel and life experiences? And teaching, most of all, kind of sneaked in everywhere, even where not so obvious. I can teach a lesson in the sort of centers in my house, using ‘realia’, or ‘concretes’ and I am reluctant to pass this on yet. Dolls from Jamaica, baskets made by Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, my old sinking sub mini-experiment, green food coloring and corn starch to make Oobleck.

I think I have some of the basic Kondo ideas and strategies, but it’s kind of in pieces in my head, so far, and of course I skipped around looking at snippets of videos. I know there is a special order and it seems like subsets and categories. So I am definitely a novice. Are you more familiar or really into it?

Well, anyway, perfect time for me. I’m moving again, in a couple months. Me the nester, and this is my fourth move in five years. You know I absolutely love living by the river, it’s been one of the best times in my life, but for a bunch of solid reasons I am moving again, mainly to be with my “Sam I Am”.

I have been downsizing with each move from the mountains of California to the vibrant, wondrous community here in Eugene, Oregon. As a widow I already cleaned out a lifetime of memories with William and my family, downsizing with each move. Now that I am ready, nearly eight years later leaping into a new life with someone special, I have to downsize. You’d think I was moving to a Tiny House, for goodness sakes. I’ve just got too much stuff, even now. But it’s the teaching stuff. Always. Crazy.

My Take on Ten Amazing Tips From Tidying Up With Marie Kondo:

I need this now, stat. SOS, no kidding. It just doesn’t come easy to me. I am blessed I have been appreciated in my career, so much over the years it’s too much to keep everything. But….

KWLWW.I know a little. I want to know more already. I already learned about each object giving me joy, and some tidbits about organization. Now I want to buy her books and binge watch her videos. And keep on cleaning out my life, ready for a new chapter in this transition. Of what I know so far, about simpifying my cluttered life, here is what made quite the impression, and sort of epiphany.

  1. Make sure everything you keep, sparks joy.
  2. Thank your home.
  3. It will get worse before it gets better.
  4. Pile things up.
  5. Discard.
  6. Folding method.
  7. Organize by category.

1. Everything I’ve kept so far absolutely still sparks joy, that’s the problem. Occcasionally I do go through my picnic basket full of cards, letters from over the years. I couldn’t let them go earlier today. I also have collections of teaching aprons, pins, freebies, stickers, motivational posters. More.

2.Thanking my home is easy. I have been living by the Willamette River for a couple years. Hearing rapids night and day, ducks and geese has been an extraordinary experience. “Lessons From Geese”.

3. It definitely got worse, now getting a little better. I dumped out all my books, children’s classics, old teaching books and readers, like above, stacks and stacks of my life as teacher and learner.

4.Right now my spare bedroom is piled up. It was really organized before I started my Kondo clean up. Recently it had one wall covered in crates my neighbor Judith donated for the fairyland miniatures party last weekend. One side of the room had piles of editing editions of my new book. I finally let them go. A lot of paper, despite working online. More piles. Teaching thank yous of all kinds, some quite unique, especially from littles.

5.Discard process. F! Minus. So far, yes I made categories and did discard. I have given loads of cool stuff to the preschool, a lot to charity. Library donations. But the truth is I am still overflowing with teaching stuff in the two main closets and here and there like “Where’s Waldo?”. I really organized Morgan’s current bedroom in my place, but I gave away not nearly enough to fit into her new room, (pink mini blinds ordered today), but clean out of current room not done.

Do I discard the pairs of princess shoes that were my Mom’s? Mom’s hats? The puppet theatre and mini puppets? Dolls and stuffies? Games, old kinds, loads of art materials, classic books? The red futon? Old Secretary desk that was Papa’s and his Papa’s? Teaching clock, Sponge Bob sleeping bags, abacus, instruments, wood practice lace tying shoe?

Discarding even when I am thankful, joyful and of good intention, is my greatest challenge, but I am making progress.

6.Folding method. This isn’t about teaching, but just want you to know I watched that video and was pretty close on ‘t’ shirts and nailed the hoodies. LOL. Not Pinterest, I was already weird about folding ‘t’ shirts and towels, pretty OCD, actually, go figure.

7.Organize by category. This is one of my greatest challenges in life. I’m working with clear plastic tubs as I sort, but no bragging rights.

There’s just a lot of stuff, period. It’s not just teachers who collect stuff.

I read an article on FaceBook the other day about people drowning in stuff. The picture showed a kid’s room overflowing with stuff. But I’m not talking about plastic commercial toy stuff and piles of clothing or kitchen drawers. I’m reflecting on my stuff, a mirror of my life as teacher.

I’m certain now, I am finally ready to shed more tears, sort more scrapbooks, photos of students, thank you signed quilt warming me as I fill more totes, those memories I am not ready to part with or pass on. But I will do as this beautiful lady suggested, thank my opportunities to serve, and place up on a top shelf, close enough when I need it.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, 2019.

May the force of love and purpose be with you as you fill your pile of gratitude. Just remember to bring a clear tote or happy box.

Whether you received trail mix, a lunch, a card, a flower or other gift, I celebrate and appreciate you dearest teachers, schoolhouse and home. Happy Appreciation Week to you, teachers all!

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

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