Spring Cleaning: Getting Rid of Old Textbooks

Next to my desk there is an ALT bookshelf.  Generations and generations of ALTs have put old textbooks and sample books on that shelf, never again to lay eyes on them.  Sure, I like reference material, but I’m not going to look through 17 years of textbooks for one good lesson idea.  

Honestly, have you used everything in your ALT resource area?

If you have a stash like I do, it’s time to be honest with yourself.  What do you use, and what is just clutter?  You have a week or two of student-free time, and if you’re just going to be sitting around, you might as well do yourself (and the  next ALT) a huge favor.  Let’s clear it out.


First thing you should do is look through what you’ve got.  I found out what duplicate books I had and did a quick flip through most of the books.  If it looked like it was published in the past 5 years I kept it.  If it looked compelling, I kept it.  Everything else, I put in a big stack.

Next, get some clearance with your supervisor or the vice principal.  Even though I was fairly sure that I had authority to get rid of these ALT materials, it’s always worth double-checking.  I told them that I was getting rid of multiple copies and very old textbooks that we didn’t need anymore, and showed them the ones that I was keeping.  I asked where I should throw out the books.

In Japan (you may have noticed if other teachers are doing the same) you need to tie your old textbooks together with some string and put them into convenient little stacks.  Then, find out where to put your neat little stacks and enjoy your newfound bookshelf space.


Remember, it’s nice to inherit materials to work with.  You don’t want to throw away valuable ideas, but there’s a point where well-meaning lesson sources just become too much.  

Simplify a little and breathe a little deeper.  Step 1 of cleaning out your ALT clutter has just been completed.


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