I admit it. I have been a classroom hoarder. I don’t hoard at home. I can’t stand too many clothes in the closet, hate cluttered countertops and tables, and prefer minimal amounts of furniture. I like space to move around. But my classroom filing cabinets are a different story. I have this ridiculous compulsion to keep every lesson, every extra copy, every activity I have ever done in class thinking it might come in handy “next year.” The problem with that is that I rarely use old lessons, and if I do, I tweak them so that they fit the next group of students. So, this summer has been one of ownership of the problem and an attempt to rectify it.
After lugging boxes of file folders across four states, all my files finally found homes inside two desert sage (fancy name for dirty brown) four-drawer filing cabinets in room 212 at Bath County Middle School in Owingsville, Kentucky. These folders included lesson plans, class sets of short stories, articles, essays, file folder centers, test prep materials, and project ideas accumulated during my twenty years of teaching. . Because our ELA department chose to use the Michigan Association of Middle School Administrators and Oakland Schools’ curriculum maps (the best maps I have ever seen for schools who want to use the readers/writers workshop approach), it was time to do some purging. They are curriculum guide masterpieces.
The first day was devoted to emptying the cabinets. Folders were piled on top of the cabinets and on a dozen chairs and desk tops. Who knew two filing cabinets could hold so much. I now know why the custodians leave the cabinets right where they are every year! Once they files were removed I was awestruck by the amount of paper. Had both sides been blank, I would have had enough paper to make two years’ worth of copies! Unfortunately.