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? Follow these 5 easy steps!
This blog post will…
- offer 5 easy steps for cleaning out a classroom
- share advice on how to find time during a busy time of year (e.g. testing, field trips, field day, and other special programs)
- equip you with a plan to get organized, rejuvenated, and prepared for packing up your classroom
- assist you in ridding your classroom of germs that have been circulating all winter
- help you make the most out of the final weeks/months of the year with your class
How to Get Ready for Cleaning
- Gather cleaning necessities: 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.
- Get in the Mindset: This process is not going to happen in 1 day. Enjoy the process and limit yourself to 20 minutes each day.
Day 1: Throw Away
- Plan Ahead: 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.
- First round of filling a trash bag: 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. If things are broken, torn or worn make a fast decision on if you can repair it, if you will replace it, or if it is no longer needed. 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.
- Second round of filling a trash bag: 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
- Plan Ahead: Once again the goal is to only spend 15-20 minutes at the 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 a recess. They will be honored to help and it will allow you to get the job done fast.
- Move items to 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. As 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.
- Extra Time: 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
- How to Maintain: 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.
Day 3 and 4: Identify Items in Need of TLC
- Plan Ahead: This next Classroom Spring Cleaning task is actually going to be spread out over two days (with a weekend in the middle 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.
- 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. As you look around your room identify items that could use a little TLC. 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).
- Extra Time: 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: Fixing Items
- Plan Ahead: On Day 3 of the Classroom Spring Cleaning Series we made a list of the items in our classrooms that needed to be repaired or replaced. Today we are going to spend some time taking care of the items on that list. This is not meant to be a complete classroom redesign. Instead you should just plan to spend 15-20 minutes making the needed improvements.
- 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.
- Extra Time: If time allows, take care of the bigger tasks (change out a bulletin board with spring colors/border).