I am a huge fan of decluttering. But as I’ve learned through hundreds of books and articles, decluttering does not mean moving items around and putting them into cuter and more colorful boxes. I know. Let out a few tears now because what I’m going to tell you to do may hurt a bit.
You’ve got to purge.
Get rid of it.
Although I’m a huge fan of purging at home (my family is constantly complaining that I never keep anything!), I actually have a harder time purging at work. Why? Probably because I didn’t buy many of my speech materials, so I feel like I have no right to get rid of them. And that’s true. But I do have every right to do one of the following: pass things along to other SLPs in the district, send them to my district office, and (with district permission) send items to SLPs in other districts that have faced a huge environmental challenge (i.e., wildfire, hurricane, tornado, etc.).
Here are the four things you must purge now from your speech room (assuming you are lucky enough to have a room!):
#1 Outdated testing materials
These can just go. No need to pass them along because it would be unethical to use these for testing. What about informal testing? Well… have you been using them this way? If not, then don’t make an excuse to keep these old tests. It may hurt a little now, but think of the space that it will clear up!
#2 Anything that you haven’t used in the last year
If you aren’t sure, then make it a practice this year to put a sticky note on everything that you use in therapy. If you don’t use it even once this year, then purge it at the end of the year. I realize that there will always be some exceptions… such as don’t throw out your favorite fluency materials just because you didn’t have a fluency student last year. But the 100 language activities in your closet? Purge!
#3 Super bulky materials
If they take up more than a small box or file folder, then really consider if you need to keep that item. SLPs notoriously have a very small room (if they even have a room!). Remember that you may very well be moving into an even smaller space next year. Get rid of the big stuff now (especially if you don’t use it all of the time).
#4 Materials that your students cannot relate to
When I moved into my speech room, there were boxes of materials from the 70s. The colors were muted, everyone was caucasian, and there were pictures of rotary phones. What? My students could not relate! There are way too many free and inexpensive things on Teachers Pay Teachers to justify keeping unrelatable pictures and games. Throw it out, give it away, whatever… Just gone!
Purging your materials will help give you a sense of calm. Everything left in your room will be things that you know that you love and use often. Less (but better!) stuff will help you feel more organized, assist with your lesson planning, and look less cluttered.
Breathe deep, fellow SLP; your room is ready.
If you want to get serious about getting organized, check out my course:
helping school-SLPs take back their weekends!