5 tips to tidy your classroom - the Marie Kondo way

A clean classroom is a rare thing – but there are ways to go about reclaiming some space, using the wisdom of the Marie Kondo technique

Gemma Corby

A tidy, quiet classroom

We all dream of having a perfectly ordered classroom, with every highlighter, stapler and ream of A4 paper always found in its allotted home.

Sadly, this is rarely the case, with any attempt to restore order rarely lasting more than a few lessons before chaos returns. But does it have to be this way? Perhaps if we reduced the amount of stuff we had in our classrooms to begin with it could help us regain some order?

To help do this we can turn to Marie Kondo and her top cleaning tips…

1. Visualise your destination

Kondo recommends that you think hard before you start the tidying process. Having goals like, “I want to have a classroom that doesn’t resemble a shop at 4pm on Boxing Day,” is too broad.

Instead, she suggests visualising the classroom you want: a room with everything in its place, labels printed in Comic Sans, no felt pens with missing lids…whatever makes you happy.

2. Discard - and be brutal about it

The KonMari Method, as it is known, is ruthless. There’s no time to be sentimental about that stained, chipped ‘best teacher’ mug a student gave you seven years ago. If it’s not “sparking joy” bin it and move on.

This also goes for all your classroom walls that are likely plastered with information, children’s work and ‘inspirational’ posters: Kondo argues that this could have a negative impact by creating a ‘noisy environment’. Maybe best to tear them all down?

3. Divide and conquer

Start by focusing on one area at a time rather than doing everything at once. Let’s take textbooks, for example: Kondo recommends taking them off the shelf and putting them on the floor.

Her next step is to stand in front of the pile and clap her hands, or gently stroke the book covers. Kondo believes this assists with the speed and precision of choosing which books you should keep.

4. Store your things so you can see them

One of the things Kondo is most famous for is storing things vertically. She claims that this makes you more aware of the space you are using – so you know when you’re overdue a clean out. She also says it is easier to see what you have, so things don’t get forgotten.

5. Respect the space

On arrival, Kondo greets the house by kneeling on the floor. She then asks the house for help and bows. She also shows respect for a dwelling and its contents by dressing up when she tidies.

She doesn’t wear sweatpants or even work clothes – she gets dolled up. If you are following this step, take extra caution when dealing with glitter glue though.

All this has a deeper purpose too. Kondo claims our lives can be transformed with a clean, tidy and relaxing environment because we can be more passionate about our work and our interests in an ordered environment.

If this technique can motivate a reluctant Year 10 class, then that really is magic.

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Gemma Corby

Gemma Corby is a freelance writer and former special educational needs and disability coordinator

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