Have you ever changed schools? Last year I changed schools. I’d been teaching 10 years at University High when I decided it was time for a change. Five years as an English teacher , 5 years running a Reading Writing Center, 10 years as a total pack rat.
How many books would you accumulate in 10 years? How many files? How many notebooks? How many pens and pencils? And I’m not even counting the stuff I hadn’t thrown away since my last move. My Mom and my friend, Lee Corey, helped me pack up.
“Do you really need this? These files look pre-Internet!” Lee commented as we started on the first of 4 full filing cabinets.
“Well, I might teach British Lit. one day," I said eyeing the thick Canterbury Tales folder in Lee's hand, "I don’t know. I might need that!” I argued back knowing full well she was trying to get me to throw stuff away.
“Lee Ann Spillane, you do not need that!” Mom chimed in.
“What if I do?”
“I’m telling you—whatever you think you need you can print off of the Internet. Honestly,” replied Lee.
“Okay, okay, I give up. I’ll throw it out. I’ll purge. I’ll turn over a new leaf. If I haven’t used it in 2 years, I’ll think about tossing it.”
“How about 1 year and you toss it—don’t just think about it.”
“Fine. Don’t let me look. Let’s just pitch it.”
And we did. I borrowed a flat bed hand truck from the janitors. It took 3 loads to the dumpster to get rid of things I’d collected but not used in a long time. I took pictures as we hauled one of the loads—thinking it would remind me not to collect so much stuff. But you know what?
At first all I could think when I looked at that picture was “Dang… I threw that away!” After cleaning up my classroom for this past week, getting ready for students on Monday, I realize that I've probably got at least another filing cabinet full of files I can purge! When was the last time you went through your files?