There is no tired quite like a teacher at the end of school day. Your students have been dismissed and your contracted work day is about to end. You are looking forward to heading home because this is now YOUR time. But then you glance around your classroom and are overcome by the feeling that you can’t leave it that way.
There are pencils and scraps of papers on the floor. Kids have left books on their desks. There are glue sticks without their caps and caps without their markers scattered around the room. It’s not a terrible mess, but you can’t go home without cleaning up the room and preparing it for the next day.
What if I told you that you could quickly and easily have your room completely clean, organized and ready for the morning in a matter of minutes before your students left for the day?
It’s true. There is a very simple, fun and effective solution for your problem.
This blog post will…
- show how to get your students to happily help keep your classroom spotless before dismissal
- help you leave school on time
- enable you to walk into a clean and organized classroom every morning and start each day feeling ready and positive
The Secret to A Clean Classroom:
One of the most useful procedures and routines I teach every year on the first day of school and continue to use every. single. day. (sometimes more than once a day) is something I made up. I call it “Find It and Fix It“. It’s my secret weapon for maintaining a Clutter-Free Classroom and is just about the best gosh, darn thing ever.
It’s sort of a game. But, not really.
If you simply tell your students to clean the room they may not be so interested. However, if they think it is a game they will want to play along.
Picture a classroom at the end of a school day. While it may not be a complete disaster, there are surely things to tidy. On any given day you probably see a pencil on the floor, a chair that is not straight, papers left on desks, a random crayon in the color pencil box, a stapler left out of place, books facing different directions on the shelf, or a goldfish cracker lying belly-up just waiting to be crushed by a pint-sized sneaker.
Pick one of those things, but do not tell your students what you are focused on. Instead, tell them to “find it and fix it.” At that point they will scurry around like little elves and perfect the imperfections of the day. The whole scene lasts only for about 2 minutes or less. It doesn’t end when the mystery item is found. It only ends when the room is looking perfect.
The Rules for Playing Find It and Fix It:
The rules are simple:
- Do not talk.
- Do not run.
- Do not crawl under tables.
- Do not move something unless you know for sure where it should be.
The last one is important because you’ll always get some kiddo who shuffles things to look busy. If a child is chatting, crawls or runs, he or she is ‘disqualified’ and will need to sit out the rest of the game.
How to Announce the Winner:
After the classroom is looking spotless and every last thing is in place, tell them to return to their seats to find out who won. Have them stand behind their chairs and give them “elimination clues” to reveal the winner.
Say things like…
- The winner is wearing shorts.
- The number of letters in the winner’s first name is an even number.
- The winner has a sister.
As the year goes on, incorporate a lot of math practice by saying things like, “the number of letters in the winner’s last name is the sum of 4 + 3″ or the winner’s student number is less than the product of 2 and 6.” As they are eliminated they sit down. Ultimately, only one friend is left standing.
What Do They Win?
It wouldn’t be any fun without a prize. The prize is that the Find It and Fix It winner earns a certificate to take home and he or she gets to be the “helper of the day” on the following school day. That simply means they are your go-to kid for anything you may need a hand with that day such as passing out papers or taking a note to the office.
Here’s the Real Secret:
Don’t tell your students, but the game can (and should be) rigged!
- Make it fair so that everyone gets a chance to be the helper.
- Pick the winner before the game begins.
- Watch to see what he or she fixes.
- Claim one of the things that he or she fixed was the “secret thing” you had been thinking about.
Put the date next to the student’s name on the tracking sheet so you will know which students have been the winner. When a column is filled, simply start again. Never let them see the tracking sheet.
I promise your room will be spotless when the kids leave. Your prep for the next day will be so much easier. You will be able to go home and enjoy your personal time when your school day ends.
Everything you need to make this magic happen in your own classroom is available in the resource above and also in this complete classroom organization bundle below.