Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Organizing Your Environment to Organize Your Mind

I have too many ideas. 

It is both my strength and my weakness.This is why I started a blog called The Idea Backpack.  This is my outlet for sharing and organizing my ideas.  I am extremely analytical, but somehow this fuels my creativity.  My brain is like Wikipedia - it jumps from tangent to tangent.  I have a journal I keep in my purse of lists and post-its of ideas and to-do-lists.  I have to empty some of my brain in order to bring a little order to my mind.

This is the time of year I start getting overwhelmed.  I have so many things I still want to cover and accomplish with my students, and I continue to think of more ways to approach things. Last weekend I was feeling completely overwhelmed.  I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to put something within my control.  I went up to school on Saturday and spent several hours de-cluttering.  Physical clutter adds to the mental clutter. Organizing the physical space helped bring about a little more calm and a little less tension to my mental well-being.

I organized our supply baskets with plastic cups (an idea I had seen from Ladybug Teacher Files).

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I emptied out my students' binders for the start of a new quarter and cleaned off my desk. I also moved my students binders and their book boxes from our tables to the cubbies at the corner of my room.  We already have so much on the table with everyone's cords and laptops.  The books and binders were too much. 

Monday morning all of my students and the parents liked the simplicity the de-cluttering added to our room.  The first student walked in and said "It is so organized.  What happened?"

This is my desk:

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The last 3 days have seemed calmer.  If my students need a book, journal, or something from their binder, they just go grab it. Sometimes less can be more.

This same idea carries over to writing.  Have you ever had a brilliant student who struggled with writing?  Have you ever struggled with how to help them?  The gifted students often have a hard time with writing because they have so much going on in their brain they do not where to begin.  They do not know how to organize their ideas or condense them. Sometimes students can be so concerned with making it perfect they will not write anything. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just get them to learn to just jump in and write.  Journal writing for 10-15 minutes where they have to write the whole time is helpful.  Graphic organizers help them organize.  Sometimes making lists before using a graphic organizer can also be helpful.

Good night.  I hope the rest of your week feels calm and less cluttered.  I am off to bed, so I can get up for yoga at 5am. Starting the day with exercise and stretching helps me feel less mentally cluttered and gives me a lot more energy.


  1. April, You are so right about those gifted kiddos. Many times they failed to begin for fear of it not being perfect. Just one of the characteristics of a gifted child.

    We have to work them through that fear using whatever methods we can.

    Mrs. B's Nook

  2. Glad someone else feels the same way I do...lots of ideas, a bit overwhelmed this time of year, needing yoga : ) I'm going to declutter and see if that helps. If I ever get back to school after the big snow!

    Hokie Teach

  3. I stayed at school until 6:30 one night last week and started in one corner of my room and kept going until I made it back to where I started. I purged, rearranged, and decluttered. I let out a huge sigh of relief when I was finished, and even more importantly, the kids noticed the next day and things have felt "better" in my room since. Thanks for sharing, Stacy @

  4. Where did you find those baskets?


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