Remember how gorgeous and new everything was in your classroom on that first day of school? Most likely, that is not the case anymore. But, we still have a solid chunk of the school year left including the chaotic end-of-the-year months where schedules get super crazy busy. Changes in schedules due to testing, field trips, assemblies, and other special programs… How do we find the time to clean our classroom? This post shares a classroom cleanup challenge that you can complete in 5 days, while only committing 20 minutes per day.
This classroom cleanup will simplify the process of cleaning and equip you with a tried and true plan. By committing to this classroom cleanup challenge, you will rid your classroom of germs that have been circulating all winter, make you feel rejuvenated and organized, and help you make the most out of the final weeks and months of the school year. Read below to learn more!
How to Get Ready for Your Classroom Cleanup
There are two things you need to prepare for your classroom cleanup.
First, gather all of your cleaning necessities. Retrieve trash bags (the more the merrier), cleaning spray (vinegar and water are a great non-toxic option for school), rags or microfiber cloths, and a container of baby wipes. This will ensure you won’t have to stop mid project looking for supplies and ruin your momentum.
The second thing you need to do to prepare for cleaning your classroom is to get in the mindset. Remember this process is not going to happen in one day. Enjoy the process and limit yourself to 20 minutes each day. This will prevent it from becoming overwhelming, while still producing results.
Day 1: Throw Away
We’re simply going to tackle the surface clutter. While I do encourage you to tackle your classroom as a whole for a take-no-mercy purging session at some point, the point of the spring cleaning series is to take only 20(ish) minutes a day to rejuvenate your space.
Today we are going to fill a trash bag and/or recycling bin with anything that can be removed from the area. Pick a corner. Any corner will do. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Moving as quickly as possible, travel in a clockwise direction around the perimeter of your classroom and discard of anything and everything that does not need to be there. You do not need to open any closets, drawers or cupboards. Simply go after the surface clutter you see on tables, counters and open-shelves. Make a fast decision on what to do with it if it is broken, torn, or worn. You can repair it, replace it, or throw it away. If it is one of the last two options, then I recommend getting rid of the damaged item as you make your initial rotation around the classroom.
Once you have made it all the way around and back to your starting point head to the center of the room and continue filling your bag or recycling bin with anything else you see that you can part with. Do not get distracted by things that you want to keep but are out of place. We’ll deal with them tomorrow.
Day 2: Put Things Where They Belong
Once again, the goal is to only spend 15-20 minutes at most to complete this task and I recommend setting a timer to keep you focused and on task. I also suggest that you make the job efficient by enlisting the help of a couple of “runners” to move things along quickly. Make arrangements to have some reliable students come in early, stay after school for a bit or even stay in and give you a hand at recess. They will feel honored to help. It will also allow you to get the job done fast.
You are going to put things where they belong. Pick a corner of the room to start with and move clockwise around the perimeter until you return to your starting point. This time your task is to take anything that is out of place and move it to its designated space in the classroom. When you find something that needs to be relocated, hand it to a runner and have them return it to the proper location. Once you have made it around the room you can work on the areas in the middle.
If you have extra time and eager helpers, you could ask them to assist in the following: organize bins of manipulatives, art materials, and classroom supplies; test markers/highlighters and discard of any that are dry; check glue sticks and toss the ones that are no longer usable or missing caps; sharpen color pencils in community bins
Now that you have put everything back into place be sure to maintain the organization by playing Find It and Fix It with your class each afternoon.
Days 3 and 4: Identify Items in Need of TLC
We are going to spread out this next task over two days with a weekend in the middle. This will give you time to gather anything you need to complete the job. Today we are going to start addressing the areas of the classroom that looked so great on the first day of school, but have started to look a bit tattered and torn as the year has progressed. Grab a piece of paper and something to write with and have a seat in the middle of your classroom. Divide your paper into three columns and label them as: Repair / Replace / Gather.
You are going to look for items that need TLC. Set your timer for 15-20 minutes. Just like on days 1 and 2 we are going to start in one corner of the room. The difference is that today you are going to travel visually around your room instead of physically. Identify items that could use a little TLC as you look around your room.
Be on the lookout for torn or damaged bulletin board trims, crooked posters and signs, outdated items (i.e. holiday and seasonal displays), anchor charts for concepts that have been mastered, and things that have faded with sunlight or classroom lighting. As you identify these things, categorize them in one of the columns on your paper and jot down what your want to repair or replace as well as anything you may want to gather to complete the job (tape, new bulletin board border, etc).
If you still have time you can remove the items that you plan to take down or take care of quick fixes (i.e. restaple a falling item or straighten a crooked poster). Otherwise, tuck your paper into your purse and head out the door (TGIF after all). Plan to gather anything you need to make your repairs or replace worn items on Monday while you are out running errands this weekend.
Day 5: Fix Items
On Day 3, we made a list of the items in our classrooms that we need to repair or replace. Today, we are going to spend some time taking care of the items on that list. This is not a complete classroom redesign. Instead, you should just plan to spend 15-20 minutes making the needed improvements.
You are going to fix items. Set your timer. Review your list. Begin by removing anything that is damaged or outdated that you will not be repairing. Next, address the quick fixes (restaple border or tape a torn poster). Cross off the items on the list as you complete them. If time runs out, make a plan to complete the items on your list as soon as possible.
If time allows, take care of the bigger tasks (change out a bulletin board with spring colors/border).
Additional Resources for Organizing your Classroom
I hope this classroom cleanup leaves you feeling rejuvenated and more relaxed. If you are looking for additional inspiration and assistance for cleaning and organizing your classroom, check out these resources!
Related Classroom Organization Blog Posts
- Tips for Organizing Your Teacher Bag
- 5 Classroom Organization Systems that Work
- How to Keep Your Classroom Neat and Tidy
- Reasons Why Having an Organized Classroom is So Important
- How to Declutter and Organize Your Teacher Desk
Classroom Organization Guide
Are you tired of the piles of papers taking over your classroom and sick of wasting time looking for things constantly? If so, consider checking out this Classroom Organization Guide for elementary teachers. It will help you become an organized teacher and have your room looking and functioning better than ever. It includes 650 pages total including an eBook, workbook, and 12 printable labels and resources.
Classroom Organization Workshop
This Classroom Organization Workshop for elementary teachers includes everything in the classroom organization plus videos that will walk you step-by-step through the decluttering and organizing process to get an organized and systematized classroom environment. This is a great option for visual and auditory learners who prefer a more structured approach.