Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cleaning House

A rule of life for almost everyone is the longer you stay in one location, the more 'stuff' you accumulate. While it is not universal, in our culture it holds true often enough that we have adopted such notions as spring cleaning to help combat this collecting of material goods, what some people refer to as 'clutter.' This is also true for teachers. In the past 10 years I have taught Honors Physics, AP Physics B, AP Computer Science, Introduction to Programming, Robotics and Astronomy. In early years at my current school, I also taught sections of Computer Explorations to 5th and 6th grades. I have accumulated a fair amount of educational materials along the way. "You never know when that might come in handy" is a common refrain to give ones self the permission to collect (hoard?) stuff. "If I had to buy this stuff, it would cost an arm and a leg" is another line of rationale to hang on to something.

I certainly still have stuff, but I must say that the collection has been significantly reduced. This is because I moved to a different classroom last summer. It is clear that changing rooms is definitely on my least favorite things to do list, but it did force me to confront the file cabinets and boxes of stuff that I had and decide if I would likely need it in my final year in the classroom meaning it would have to be moved and I would have to find a place for it in my new digs. At the end of last school year I spent hours sifting through the detritus of my years as a teacher and ended up pitching a lot of stuff or passing it on to other teachers who said they could use it.

This week I did a little bit more, cleaning out some old files and paper work. I am surprised at how empty my file cabinets now are. I still have all my astronomy stuff, since that is most of what I teach. Telescopes, tripods, globes, charts, books, accessories, and all my Starlab equipment (our portable planetarium) take up a significant amount of storage in my class. But I feel very good knowing I have gotten a good chunk of the process out of the way.

The one category of items that I still have is educational toys. They are going to be the subject of several future posts. For now I will only say that at some point in my teaching career, I became aware that there is a good amount of physics in certain toys.

One final word. I have tried to not think too much about this. However, on Friday, I calculated the number of schools left until R-day as 117. The school year is more than one-third over. To paraphrase the Latin I learned, Tempus fidgets.

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