Inconsiderate of Those Who Come Behind

Yesterday I wrote about my experience in Scouts. Today, I can’t think of a better way to start this post then one of the lesser-known mottos of the organization; “Leave it cleaner than you found it.”

That’s what I did. When the school year ended in June, I left the class in impeccable condition. I put all the classroom resources together in labeled boxes. I cleaned out my desk and filing cabinet completely. I didn’t leave any garbage or useless materials behind.

Whatever teacher inherits my old classroom will have an easy time seeing what resources are there. They will be able to unpack them in any way that they see fit. And they will be able to set up the class to whatever specifications they prefer.

This is how it should be. Teachers need to be considerate of those who come behind them.

Unfortunately when I walked into my new classroom this week, I was met with a disorganized mess.

I spent most of this week just cleaning up. I’ve thrown out three garbage bags worth of junk that was left behind. I’ve spent hours going through the cupboards trying to locate and organize the resources. They were everywhere and in no order whatsoever.

Cleaning the blackboard was the hardest job. For some reason, the previous teacher had marked permanent lines in yellow all the way across the long board at the front of the room. It looked horrible and would extremely limit what I could do with the board. Needless to say, it had to come off. I had to use rubbing alcohol and really scrub to get it off. It took me over two hours to do so. I even lost some of the skin on my thumb in the process.

And I’m not even done yet. I will probably have to spend another four or five hours just cleaning and organizing my room. It’s ridiculous.

I just want to move in and get organized, do some planning, and get ready for the school year. Classes start in two weeks. I’ve still got a lot of work to do before then.

I just wish teachers would have some consideration for those who come behind them, and leave their rooms cleaner than they found it. I know that I will do that again at the end of this school year, even if I will be returning to the same room. It’s just the right thing to do.

8 Comments on Inconsiderate of Those Who Come Behind

  1. Too bad your classroom wasn’t left in better shape for you, Chase. That would be annoying to have to do all that work just to set it up.
    S

  2. Perhaps that is something that should be brought up in a faculty meeting.

    Since I work in a school district myself, I know how tight resources are, and how irritated the administration gets when they are hoarded, wasted or lost.

    A less conscientious teacher than you might have just ordered new materials rather than wading through the mess in your new classroom, which of course would have wasted the district’s money. You might point that out.

  3. Hi Silverfish,

    It is annoying but I’ve nearly got the room feeling like mine now. It’s coming along nicely.

    Hi ECD,

    I’m just going to leave it alone. I’m at a new school and I’m the new guy. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers just yet. But you raise some very great points.

  4. “I’m just going to leave it alone. I’m at a new school and I’m the new guy. I don’t want to ruffle any feathers just yet.”

    This makes sense.

    Still, very annoying.

  5. Hi Chase,

    That’s sad that you’re having to spend so much time cleaning and organizing a room that should have been left tidy.

    You don’t sound like a person who would complain, but maybe others can learn from the good example you set.

  6. Hi Vered,

    I will probably bring it up at the very last staff meeting of the year when we discuss packign up our classrooms. But you’re right, it was very annoying.

    Hi Barbara,

    I try to leave it cleaner than I found it in all aspects of my life. I even clean up my table at restaurants before I leave. I think it’s nice for everyone to live by this motto.

  7. So few of us seem to have learned the lesson of seeing ourselves in other’s shoes and really imagining how they are impacted by our actions. This goes all the way up from personal interactions like the one you cite to the behavior of whole countries on the international stage. If only people could develop this perspective, it would make so much difference to our world.

    But another lesson we have to learn is that (at least for the time being) not all of us *have* that perspective – and not to get too hung up on the consequences. Your reaction seems to be characteristically sensible. You have expressed your annoyance (at least in your blog!), got on with what had to be done, and now you may bring up the issue officially at the end of the year, when it is most likely to have some practical effect rather than being seen as a personal matter. Like I say, a very sensible reaction.

  8. Hi Simon,

    It is a lesson that we can all learn, isn’t it. Thanks for your perspective.

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