As an extra credit to our strategies for spring cleaning series, I wanted to celebrating 50 episodes with some brain nuggets, tips and modifications to clean counters, teaching tactics, and more!

Extra Credit Strategies for Spring Cleaning your Counters Transcript

Welcome to the extra credit episode or episode number 50 of the Simple Systems With Sam Podcast. They’re both very true statements. But I am so thankful and grateful and profoundly in awe that we have gotten to spend 50 episodes together. 

That you allow me into part of your day and part of your week. Together, we can tackle some really simple things that are earning you back more time. 

Whether that is time spent listening to more podcasts or picking up a hobby or just relaxing, I am so glad that we’re all on that journey together.

Part of that journey is when I decided to restructure the way we do episodes. 

There were a lot of requests in the last survey that I sent out, and also in some emails and DMs, for different topics and a variety of things that you want to hear more about. 

I thought the extra credit episode was a perfect way to tackle all those. And we’re gonna format it kind of like a class. 

I’ve never really seen segments done by a solo podcaster, but we’re going to attempt it. 

We are going to move through the episode as if it is a mini simple systems class. 

Brain Warm-Up

To kick us off, I’m gonna give you a little brain warm-up. Some fun fact or an interesting tidbit that has come up in recent days that you can either use to start a conversation with other people, or just to keep you enlightened on some sciency things that are happening in the world.

I will keep these a little bit more useful than the ones I give my students. For example, outside of my classroom door right now, the fun fact is that it takes an average of 1.71 days for a Lego head that was swallowed to pass out the other end.

Ours are gonna be a little bit more useful, or a little bit more interesting, and it’s going to let my nerd out just a tad.  

Brain Nugget

So I’m gonna give you a brain nugget news piece. And that is the fact that just last week, we launched a 3D printed rocket. 

Now that’s what all the media is calling it. The entirety of the rocket was not 3D printed, but major components and multiple components were. 

This is a huge step forward for the cost of space travel, and also the efficiency of building these rockets. 

Now I will say it did not make it all the way to its orbit. It’s a smaller rocket that is intended to take small payloads or even smaller, orbiting satellites up into orbit, and then just come back down. It didn’t make it all the way. But for our first launch, it did really well. 

Most people have seen the viral video of the 3D printed cherry pie that is then cooked in UV light, it looks absolutely disgusting. It looks like somebody made it out of  playdough. 

The rocket, I think, is going to be a little bit more useful. I just can’t wait to see where this technology takes us. 

We can already 3D print food and plastics pretty easily. We can 3D print prosthetics, but now we’re 3D printing transportation with huge combustion coming out the end. 

So I am just nerding out over what that means for the future of space travel. 

Review & Modify

Now that we’ve warmed up a little bit, I want to review and modify some things that we talked about in the Sunday episode

We talked about the “C” for spring cleaning. And I really hope that you’ve had a chance to dive in a little bit to clearing off your countertops, your spaces, classify some things, whether they’re trash/keep, or if they belong in another location. Then recognizing where your categories are within your house. 

So I am doing this right along with you. I cannot tell you how impressed not only my husband was, but our cleaning lady was impressed. 

But also my six year-old has started clearing off her nightstand in her room which is covered in trinkets and those little-tiny-annoying-collectible animal figurines that they sell. 

It’s all started kind of like this revolution. It’s not that I did anything insane. I just put things where they needed to go so that those pieces were completely cleared off. 

Right now the floor of my living room is covered in Pokemon cards, books, different toys and Connect Four, but if you turn around…my kitchen looks amazing. Because the counters are fully cleaned off. 

It’s kind of that perception that we’re giving ourselves a nice little jumpstart in the spring cleaning challenge. 

I also tackled this at school today and gave myself 10 minutes, set a timer, and time lapsed myself cleaning up the area. 

I decided that there’s two ways that I want to modify this for you to get this spring cleaning started. Whether you are working at home or in your classroom.

Jumpstart at Home

The first jumpstart would be at home. If you need to modify it, because you just don’t know where to start, hand every person in your family a grocery bag. Or hand them a reusable shopping tote. I love the ones from TJ Maxx, they’re giant, but it’s a great size for this type of activity. 

Let them know they have today and tomorrow to get everything that’s theirs, that is just sitting out in the common areas, into this bag, or it’s free rein to trash. 

Even with little kids, you can almost make a game of it. Just say whoever collects the most of their things in this bag in 10 minutes, wins a prize. The prize is maybe that you give them a Skittle. I don’t really know. It’s up to you.

Get other people in on helping you do some of the major legwork in the clearing. Because once they’ve taken what they feel is important to them, a lot of things are going to be easier to find as trash. Or it’s going to be easier to find a home for it because technically everything that shouldn’t be in that space is already removed. 

We’re just going to do that for the major living areas that everyone shares combined. Because any other area of the house should already be fairly condensed down to objects that should be in there or trash. 

Jumpstart at School

When it comes to school, as I was cleaning off my countertops today, I realized and recognized that I put out a lot of things for my students to use that I just don’t really see them needing to have a use for.

Right now I have four staplers and three tape dispensers in my classroom, along with three hole punches. I can tell you right now that almost nobody, maybe except for twice the entire school year, has appropriately used tape for most tape dispensers. 

I rarely have people that truly need to use a stapler unless they are stealing the staples out of it. And hole punchers…most of these people do not have a binder. In all fairness, they don’t have lockers, so binder systems are not going to be the easiest for them to carry around in their backpacks compared to folders. 

But why do I have all of this sitting out if it’s not even used, and it’s not used appropriately?

So I’m starting to put things away that I recognize are not necessities for them. And I’m kind of in that way, minimizing the clutter. Not only that, but the ways that people can decide to entertain themselves with my things. 

I can already see it making a big difference just in my stress levels and feeling like I have to monitor everything that’s happening at every single part of the room all the time. 

Teaching Tactics

For the next part, I want to give you a teaching tactic that I have for you. That is now that the weather’s getting nice outside, we need to actually embrace it. 

We need to give our students an outlet to enjoy the weather because we know that their mood starts to shift as well. They get a little bit more antsy, don’t want to sit still, but we still have things to get through. We still want them to experience different aspects of the world around them. 

Well, I’m going to suggest that we do walk-n-learns, which is going to be geared specifically (in my idea) around a podcast. 

Using Podcasts Outdoors

You can have the whole class listen to a similar podcast episode, or you let them choose an episode based on a topic that they’re interested in. They will head out either on a track, on a walking trail, or even just hanging out in the grass in the sunshine with a Podcast Summary Form (the one that I created is linked here if you’re interested in looking at that), and they will be just listening to a podcast episode.

I suggest one that’s around 30 minutes long. That way between moving your students outside, getting them on the right path and also completing the summary, that takes up about a 45 to 50 minute long class. 

What you’ll do to kind of add on top of this is not only are they going to be listening to the episode, but as they walk around and as they complete these laps or they work with each other…every five minutes or so, blow a whistle, have them stop and share a fact that they learned with somebody else that’s nearby to them on the walking path. The other student will then write down a fact that was shared with them on their Podcast Summary page

This way, there’s a little bit of interaction going on. And also you know that they’re actively listening to what’s happening. Have them fill out the podcast summary, and write the new summary for the episode and what they learned alongside it. 

Then for the next podcast walk, you can have students pick an episode from the summaries that were previously written. 

So if I had been listening to an episode about saving the water bears, I would stop along the track every five minutes when the whistle is blown, and share a fact about tardigrades, how they can survive in space, and all the mass extinctions and all of these things. 

Somebody else might be interested in that, write that fact down, see my total summary at the end of the class or the next time that we go out, and decide that that’s an episode that they want to invest their time in and listen to it the next learning walk.

This would be a great way to share information and build a collaborative environment. 

If you wanted to curate certain episodes, I’ve actually used ChatGPT and these AI tools to also give me feedback on what types of episodes are age and topic appropriate. It can list out 10 to 15 for even the most specific topics that you have.  

Try This At Home

Alright, before we wrap up, I want to give you, not homework, but a try this at home moment. I want you to consider three different styles of food that you enjoy cooking and or eating. Assign those three styles of food to different days of the week. 

Taco Tuesday is a perfect example. I also used to do Casserole Thursdays because Thursday’s were a really busy day for us when it came to our kids’ activities. You can do Mexican Mondays, you can have Soup Saturdays. I like alliteration, but they don’t have to match the letter of the name to the letter of the day of the week. 

Create your next weekly meal plan around those themes. Start introducing themes into your meal plan to simplify what you are needing to think through, and eliminate some extra decisions that are on your plate. 

Tangible Due Dates

And last but not least, we’re going to have a little due date at the end, where I just give you some very attainable and actionable steps that are timely so that you can execute on them. 

It was highly requested to add some tangible due dates into the podcast. 

This episode is coming out on March 29th, and I want you, if you have not yet, by April 1st, to go ahead and download your tracker for the #75Simple Challenge. 

This comes from Episode 48. If you want to head back there to learn more, or print your trackers here

Episode 48 is where we walk through the simplest of the simple challenges. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for you to really feel in control and moving even in the smallest step towards your goals. 

But if you haven’t started it yet, I want to make sure that you do jump on this because the goal of it is that you feel accomplished and refreshed going into summer, already headed in the right direction towards those goals. So join us by April 1st. 

There’s your deadline. There’s your due date. I hope you enjoyed this extra credit episode. Until next time. 

Related Episodes:

48: End of School Year Reset; The #75Simple Challenge

49: Spring Cleaning Series, Part 1 – Clear, Classify, and Categorize


Podcast Summary

#75Simple Trackers here!

5 Steps to Simplify Your To Do List

Focus Blocks

Productivity Planner

Unit Planning Kit

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Keywords: podcast, classroom, spring cleaning, clearing, modify, systems, due date