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Give it a go

Sue Cowley offers some tips on spring cleaning your resources


One term in, are you already drowning under oceans of paper and a cascade of resources? Teachers need to be ruthlessly organised, so make a new year's resolution to clear out all your clutter.

* Think laterally: The available space in many classrooms is limited, so think upwards as well as outwards. Could you arrange to have a few more shelves put up on your walls to help with the storage of files and paperwork? And how about hanging a line across the ceiling to peg up display work or to dry paintings?

* Involve your children: Pupils generally love to be involved in keeping things organised, especially in the primary classroom. Always encourage them to take responsibility for the teaching space - it will help to give children a sense of pride and ownership. You might ask pupils to count in and count out equipment. You might also designate specific teams that have responsibility for particular areas. Keeping the stock cupboard tidy, for example, has always been a favourite for trustworthy pupils. Delegate as often as you can.

* Keep it tidy: As a drama teacher, I've looked after a few costume cupboards in my time. Experience tells me that when these are tidy, the children are far more likely to keep them that way. If your cupboards are a disaster area, then your pupils are unlikely to treat them with much respect. And lots of mess will make it that much harder for you to find the resources you need.

* Edit regularly: Some schools are full to bursting with worksheets, textbooks and equipment that is long out of date, rarely used and takes up far too much valuable space. Allocate some time for clutter-busting this term. Check each resource to ensure that it is useful, relevant and used on a regular basis. If not, file it under B for bin.

* Be ruthless with your paperwork: Teachers tend to keep piles of paperwork that, once filed, never sees the light of day again. Spend some time going through all your files and throw out any papers that are not important.

Remember that someone else will nearly always have a copy of anything that really matters.

* Be creative: The most inspiring resources are often a bit unusual - objects that are not normally seen in the classroom (two of my favourite teaching props are a magic wand and a pack of cards). Trawl through your local charity shops for some engaging, original and cheap resources that will get your pupils' imaginations fired up this year.

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