The Teaching Edit

The Teaching Edit

Maria Fallon Current Affairs, Education, Life in the Classroom

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If you’re anything like me, you watched (and loved) the Netflix original Get Organized with The Home Edit. In the show, expert home organizers Clea and Joanna help clients contain their clutter to create stunning spaces. You may have even bought their books and taken to organizing your linen closet, pantry, or under the sink during quarantine. (You know I did!)

Clea and Joanna use a simple system to help them with each project:

  • Edit
  • Categorize
  • Contain
  • Consider how the space is used

As I considered these steps, I wondered… How can I apply these to the clutter in my head surrounding teaching during a pandemic?

Edit- It’s no secret that teaching during a pandemic requires many things to be edited, revised, changed, and reinvented. A simple turn and talk in the classroom evolves into a breakout room with a question and sentence starter posted in the chat or a paper and pencil assignment morphs into a digital assignment that can be typed on. But in The Home Edit, the “Edit” step involves taking everything out of a space and paring down- getting rid of the things you no longer use or just don’t like. Many times this looks like an overwhelming mess of “stuff”. In the case of teaching in a pandemic, it means considering all your instructional techniques, educational resources, and pedagogical knowledge. When organizing a space, you take it all out to see what you have. I wouldn’t recommend purging any of your beloved strategies or materials just for the sake of this pandemic, but you may come across some outdated things that you (or your students) truly don’t have a use for.

Categorize- Categorization is the process through which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated, classified, and understood. The word categorization implies that objects are sorted, usually for some specific purpose. It is much easier to categorize physical objects than abstract ideas and thoughts floating around your teacher brain. There are infinite ways to categorize but for the purposes of this blog, you may want to think about categorizing by type of instruction (small group, whole group, or individual learning activities); by content areas; or by activities that can be done asynchronously versus those that require synchronous instruction.

Contain- This involves the steps you take to store and organize ideas and objects. Part of the huge success that is The Home Edit, is that they have a whole line of amazing containers (at none other than The Container Store). When containing things digitally, think of your drives, folders, etc. How can you easily access the resources you need? How can your students easily access their learning materials. Containment for me comes in the form of Google Drive and Google Classroom. And the thing with the “Contain” step is… you want to make it look nice so that you will be more inclined to access and utilize what you have.

Consider- In The Home Edit, you would consider how the space was used. Instead, consider your students, your setting, and the uncertainty, confusion, stress and anxiety associated with this time. (If you are thinking, “hey this reminds me of National Board Pre Candidacy” ding…ding… you are correct!). One of my favorite parts of the show was when they showed the finished spaces and how they were organized by “zones”. Great for visual people like me. In this case, your “zones” could mirror your teaching context- remote learning, hybrid, full 5-day instruction. Think about where you would hypothetically store things to have the easiest access for your current context. What do you want easy access to (on an eye level shelf)? What may you be able to store on a higher shelf, out of reach (for now)?

Teaching during a pandemic is certainly not for the faint of heart. It takes mindful, purposeful planning, preparation, reflection, and refinement. We have to keep our students and our unique setting in mind with every instructional decision we make. Hopefully the 4 steps modified from The Home Edit can help you clear the clutter of teaching during a pandemic.


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