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60. 6 Simple Spring Cleaning Tips for Freshening Up Your Classroom
24th April 2023 • Teacher Approved • Heidi and Emily, Elementary Teacher and Resource Designer
00:00:00 00:22:22

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The weather is getting warmer, the trees and flowers are blooming, and the sun is staying out longer, which means spring has finally sprung! When spring arrives, it usually gives people the urge to clean their homes, so why can’t the same be done for classrooms? Approaching the end of the year is the perfect time for spring cleaning your classroom, so we’re sharing 6 tips for freshening up your classroom with a little spring cleaning.

Resource of the Week: Decodable Fluency Passages Bundle

For all the resources mentioned in this episode, head to the show notes:

Connect with us on Instagram @2ndstorywindow.


Hey there. Thanks for joining us today. In today's episode, we're sharing six simple tips for spring cleaning your classroom and a teacher approved tip for something really simple, you can do if spring cleaning feels overwhelming.

We start our episodes with a morning message just like we used to do at morning meeting in our classrooms. This week's morning message is what student trends are you a survivor of? I love this question.

Well, then Emily, kick us off. Well, tamagotchi's were a new resurgence when I first started teaching and so there was definitely some drama with that. And it felt a little like karma because I had one a Tamagotchi when they were brand new that I was sneaking into school when I was like 12. So I think I have that coming. Yeah, it goes around comes around, I guess.

How about you Heidi? Well, my first trend was Lord of the Rings when the kids were going around calling everything "My precious." And then see what else there have been so many. Frozen, water bottle flipping, minions. I think it just reaches a point as a teacher where anytime you see anything catchy, you just you just know you are going to be in for it. Yep.

We have some responses from our teacher approved community. We've got lots of dancing trends that they have survived, Julia said dabbing. Michelle said the floss dance. Alene said fortnite dances and Maggie said the griddy dance. Too many dances.

And Kate said Jojo bows, Beyblade battles, and squishies. I missed those. Kathleen said Pokeyman cards, and Tamagotchi pets, yep Been there with Pokemon cards. Rachel said saying "no cap." That was the whole thing with our sixth grade class last year. Oh man.

Debbie said the cup song which honestly kudos to you if you endured all the kids doing the cups song. I love the cups song, but no, but maybe I wouldn't love it would get old. We have been doing that since we were kids. So we didn't get to camp out on the day.

Christine said silly bands, slap bracelets and really forgot about heeleys. Heeleys are the worst. Take those out. I forgot the tool and I better not see. Tons of people said fidget spinners, poppers and slime Oh, that is the stuff of nightmares seriously.

And some of you are still actively trying to survive a few trends. Stephanie said Please tell my students cheese touch is over. I've heard about this being banned at both of my kids elementary school. So I think the cheese touch game is definitely alive and well. My condolences to you. That's one that comes back every few years. Thank you Wimpy Kid.

Jennifer said just trying to get through the crocs with charms trend. They're always playing with the charms and losing them. What a nightmare. Oh, I'm so sorry, Jennifer. Becky's class has been singing the Burger King commercial song over and over. It's so dang catchy. I know. And Melissa said her students were singing the Liberty Mutual theme for no apparent reason. She said I heard that for weeks.

And my my nine year old sings the Liberty Mutual song all the time. And I thought it was just him. So I wonder if it's from school more than actual commercials. Now I'm like tempted to sing it. But I'm not going to do that to you.

Teachers have been through so much. There should be an I survive series about teachers. We'd love to have you join the conversation over in our Teacher Approved Facebook group.

Now let's talk about this week's resource of the week: our new decodable fluency passages bundle. Heidi, will you tell us about it?

So this is a new bundle of all our newly created or updated decodable passages for building fluency skills with our beginning readers. There are 64 passages and they are designed for kids reading on levels A through D and this has been Heidi's pet project recently. So it's her pride and joy.

You might you might have wondered how we know so much about decodable passages. Now you know. Your students will love using these decodable passages as they build their confidence with decodable CVC words, grow their reading fluency skills and learn new high frequency sight words.

You will love these decodable passages because they provide you a quality, no prep reading fluency materials to support your students as they build their decoding and fluency skills.

So what makes our beginning reader fluency passages special? Our passages include many decodable CVC words, and include practice with beginning and ending digraphs. And beginning blends as the levels progress. The stories are engaging, and we have tried to make them worth rereading. And they are short to keep kids motivated. They use high frequency words strategically and include custom illustrations to support comprehension.

So one thing to keep in mind is that these are designed for fluency first and reading instruction second. So with that in mind, we've made them maybe a little more predictable than traditional decodable passage would be, because, you know, if kids have to stop and decode every single word, they can't read it fluently.

So Emily and I had long conversations about how to balance decodability and predictability. And I think we've hit a good place. Yes, with the goal of fluency in mind. Yes. So just keep that in mind. If you are looking for fluency practice. This is great. If you're looking for decodable practice, this can help too. But fluency was their main goal. And we've had lots of positive feedback from those who are using them already. You can find our decodable fluency passages bundle at the link in our show notes.

Well, it's finally spring, at least here in the United States. And you know what that means spring cleaning. As we are approaching the end of the school year, this is actually the perfect time to focus on getting things cleaned and organized in your classroom.

But don't worry, we are not going to suggest that you spend a weekend scrubbing your classroom from top to bottom, or pulling out everything you own from all of your cupboards, we would never do that to you., We aren't those people. We just don't have that do it all energy. Although if you want to tackle a massive project like that we are cheering you on. Yes.

We assume many of you are feeling that lovely spring teacher burnout at this point. So today, we're going to look at spring cleaning from a lens of small actionable steps you can take to freshen up your space.

So let's get started with our six simple classroom spring cleaning tips. What's tip number one, Heidi? Tip number one is throw something away. There is something so therapeutic about throwing stuff away. And I guarantee that you have stuff in your classroom that needs to be tossed or recycled right this minute.

You probably have stacks of papers from faculty meetings, and past lessons and leftover copies that you can recycle now. Yeah, those stacks just keep adding up. At this point of the year, you've also definitely got some used up supplies that need to go too. So check all those dry erase markers, toss the ones that are dried up, or the ones that the kids never want to write with because they write funny, you know the ones.

And you know that you've got a bunch of dried up glue sticks and tiny pencils and broken crayons that can go too. The tiny pencils. But don't overthink this. Yeah, if your first instinct is you can probably toss it, chances are good, you really can. If you thought about tossing it in the past, that's another sign that it's time to let it go. Speaking of trends we've lived through. So take a sweep of your room and see what you can throw away.

Now let's hear spring cleaning tip two, Emily. Tip number two is to declutter. Let's get rid of the unwanted stuff cluttering up our classrooms. This one feels just a therapeutic as throwing stuff away. Yes, it does. And it doesn't have to be hard.

Take a look at the stuff in your classroom and see what things you're holding on to that you don't use, need, or want anymore. You might as well pass those on to a good home. You don't need to go digging through your cupboards to do this if you don't want to. You can just focus on the things that you see out in your spaces that you aren't using, or just don't want anymore.

Getting rid of stuff you don't even need or want anymore is a great way to free up physical space and also mental space. Think about how overwhelming it is to look into a closet that is just packed full of stuff that you never use.

Do you have some random activities or manipulatives in your cupboard that you've never used and you don't really intend to? )ut those puppies in the workroom with a note that says "they're up for grabs."

I sometimes feel really guilty for letting go of useful things because it feels wasteful. But the truth is, if it is just sitting in a cabinet, it is still going to waste. So I try to remind myself that in the big picture, it's actually more wasteful to store it than it is to release it for someone else to enjoy. Right, absolutely.

Now what's tip number three, Heidi? Tip number three is use it up. This one might not seem like a cleaning tip, but it totally is. We have talked in previous episodes about how easy it can be to have something that you love and you hold on to forever, but you never actually use because it doesn't seem like a special enough moment.

So this is the opposite of the things you're holding on to that you never even want to use these you want to use, but it just doesn't seem like the special moment to use it. You love it so much. You're not using it. Yeah, I'm still holding on to some stickers that fell into that trap. Yeah, so let's hear that story again for those who haven't heard, oh, my sticker shame.

I got them years ago as like a thank you from Highlights magazine if you've been teaching long enough, so they were really a precious treasure. But they were pretty and shiny. And they were high quality for a sticker. So it didn't seem like I could just slap them on any old assignment, they needed something special.

But then the more I held on to them, the more special they needed to be like, what if I use them on just a regular spelling test and then I wished I had them for a book report down the road? So zero kids got to enjoy those stickers. And then when we went to teach preschool, the kids didn't even get to use them. So I meant to grab one so I could gift it to you so you can enjoy it. Maybe after this.

Now that I'm aware of this phenomenon, I realized that I do this all the time. And it happens in lots of sneaky ways. But no more, we're going to use stuff up. First of all, that lets us enjoy the things we have that we love that we were excited to acquire. So that's a win right there. But second of all, it gets rid of clutter.

Yeah nobody wants cupboards full of stuff that never gets used. It makes it hard to find things we need. Plus it adds mental weight every time you look at the item and think oh, I just I gotta save that for the perfect time. So we're just making a pact, everyone hands in the middle here, we are going to use up our stuff.

Emily, what is tip number four? Tip number four is to declare bankruptcy. And who better to help us with that than Michael Scott? I declare bankruptcy.

Now what the heck do we mean by declaring bankruptcy in terms of spring cleaning? Well, by that we mean when you see a mountain of work you've been meaning to grade for weeks, and you don't know how you'll ever get caught up on it, consider if you can just declare bankruptcy on grading. Unless there is a vital assessment in that stack of work, you can declare bankruptcy and just toss that stack in the recycling and start fresh.

And if you want, you can yell I declare bankruptcy while you do it, just to make it more fun. You could also declare bankruptcy on trying to get your classroom library organized again, you can just give up on that and revisit it again before next school year and try to set up a better process.

And you can also do that with an overstuffed inbox. Highlight all those messages, and if you're brave, just delete them. But if you're a little nervous about that, you can set up a folder in your email, and just move all of those messages into the folder and out of your inbox. I have done that before. And I think it might be time to do it again, that number is creeping up pretty high.

So if there's something you have been meaning to get caught up on for ages, and you just don't see how you're ever going to do it, do yourself a favor and declare bankruptcy, then enjoy your fresh start.

Now, what's tip number five, Heidi. So tip number five is organize something, but not everything. If thinking about spring cleaning is getting you motivated, you might be feeling like you want to do some actual organizing. I love when I get the itch to organize, it doesn't happen often enough for me.

But sometimes like when you're feeling that itch, we will suggest you start small. Pick one cupboard or even just one drawer to get organized. Dive into that one defined space, rearrange things, find the home for everything in there. Make sure you can get to everything you need in that space.

But the key is, don't commit to doing this to all of your cupboards or all of your drawers right now. Just start with one. After you're done with that one, you can move on to another if you're still feeling super motivated. You can end up building a lot of momentum that way. Yeah, that definitely does work for me.

The benefit though to not committing to doing your whole classroom is that you will end up with MPRs which is mid project regret syndrome. And I know we have all experienced this. That's what happens when you pull absolutely every item you own out of your closet. And then when things are at their worst you lose all interest you ever had in doing that project and now you want to go to bed and everything you own is on your bed.

It is the worst Yep, 100% We've all been there. So save yourself from that disaster by starting small, taking it one space at a time for as long as you feel motivated to do it. Promise us. Yes.

Now let's hear the last tip Emily. Tip number six is to get the kids involved. I love this one. Your students can and should help with cleaning your classroom. And we know there is a lot of pressure to be teaching from bell to bell, but you can steal a few minutes every once in a while to deal with some classroom tasks. No one was going to fire you.

So have the kids check your dry erase markers and glue sticks. Have them sort through the bin of stray crayons for the ones that are still usable, and the ones that are too tiny. Also think ahead to the end of the year. What can you start weeding out now to minimize the giant purge that last week of school?

If your kids have morning work binders or vocabulary folders, and you don't need them for test review, take five minutes and have the kids pull out the pages they've already used. And then you can just send those home now. Or let's be honest, just skip the middleman and put them straight in recycling. As a parent I cosign that suggestion do after school. But yes, get it done.

It'll be so nice on that last week to be dealing with a fraction of the papers and mess that you usually have to manage. And think about anything else you can start offloading early. Parents and kids will thank you for this too, even if they don't know it. Think about how much stuff is crammed into those little backpacks on the last week of school and like the kids can barely walk with them. You are doing everyone a big favor by getting started on this one a little bit early. Yes.

So that's our six tips for spring cleaning your classroom. And we would love to hear your thoughts on spring cleaning. Come join the conversation in our teacher approved Facebook group. And if you toss out something or organize a space no matter how small post a picture in our Facebook group so we can give you all the gold stars for your hard work.

Now let's talk about this week's teacher approved tip. Each week we leave you with a small actionable tip that you can apply in your classroom today. This week's teacher approved tip is take stock of what's in your classroom.

Heidi, can you tell us about this tip? The idea of spring cleaning your classroom can be super overwhelming. Even the easy tips we gave you in this episode might feel like more than you can handle right now. And that's okay. So this tip is something you can do that will really make an impact. But it is truly easy.

Just take stock of what you have in your classroom. The easiest way to start with this is just to pick a cupboard or drawer, open it up and stand there staring at it: Done, Good job. You don't have to touch anything if you don't want to. And we recommend that you don't if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Just take a catalogue of everything you see in there. You can make a list but you could just mentally take note of what you have. Also, this is a great way to remind yourself of what you already own. And it will help remind you where things are if you sometimes aren't sure where you stash things away. Speaking from experience there, that's definitely happened to me before.

If you want to you definitely can move things around so you can really get your eyes on absolutely everything in there. But you don't have to. Just taking a visual peek inside your cupboards or drawers. Even if you don't touch a single thing or declutter anything is a way to spring clean.

Because knowing what's in there will help you from buying stuff you already own. Because you forgot that you had it or because you can't find it. It will remind you of items you have that you may have forgotten about so you can actually use them up. They can also help you realize if you're storing the same item in multiple places. So just open up those cupboards and drawers and take stock of what you already own.

To wrap up the show we are sharing what we're giving extra credit to this week. Emily, what gets your extra credit? Well, I am so excited about this because I've been dying to tell you about this. I'm giving extra credit to the TV show Trying on Apple TV.

It's a British comedy about Nicki and Jason a couple who are having trouble conceiving a child, sounds like a barrel of laughs right. But stay with me. They decide to adopt and the show follows them through the fostering and adoption process which is a little unique in the UK compared to how it is here in the US.

I know this sounds heavy, but it truly is a comedy and it's a really charming supporting cast that brings a lot of heart to the show. I found myself smiling often while I was watching it. Oh season two I think it is has Imelda Staunton in it and even though she Professor Umbridge I absolutely adored her in the show. I'm sad that because of The Crown she's not in in season three.

But there are already three seasons out of the show so if you want to watch it you can know that you're going to get plenty of episodes upfront. I mean, the seasons are like eight episodes, but the UK show and Apple TV show. But there are enough episodes for a mini binge. It took me a few episodes to get into it, but then I flew through the rest because I was just enjoying it so much.

I think it's a similar sensibility to Ted lasso. So if you're looking for that kind of vibe, here's another one that checks those boxes. I haven't watched it until this moment didn't know I knew even knew anyone who had but I do really like the music in Bears Den.

That's what I was gonna say. It has a really good soundtrack that I think you will really like especially so yeah, it's right up my alley because I love Bears Den. So listen to it. I'm excited for you to watch and tell me what you think. Oh, good, fun to look forward to.

What are you giving us credit to? Well, my extra is much less exciting. I'm giving extra credit to dry shampoo. Although, in the morning, I'm more excited about dry shampoo than almost anything. But I specifically like the brand, Not Your Mother's dry shampoo. And in full transparency. I have not tested a million brands.

But of the few brands I have tried, Not Your Mother's is hands down the best. And I specifically like Plump for Joy because I have kind of fine hair so it adds some nice volume without making my hair feel gunky the way that like volumizer and dry shampoo sometimes can. And let's be honest, anything that lets me put off washing my hair for another day gets all the gold stars. Yes.

That is it for today's episode. Do yourself a favor and spring clean a corner or two of your classroom. But if that feels too overwhelming, remember our teacher approved tip and just start by taking stock of what you have stashed away in all those corners and cabinets.