Kids will do practically any chore—at school. (As we all know, home is another story.) Make the most of your classroom of eager helpers. You and your students will build community bonds while creating a pleasant learning space.
I like to teach a simple math lesson about man hours before we begin the classroom cleanup. I tell students that completely cleaning and organizing the classroom might take one person several hours—or several days of work. However, if all of us spend just one hour on the task, that’s about 30 man hours. (So, an hour probably isn’t necessary for most spruce-up jobs.) When all 30 of us spend just 15 minutes, the classroom gets 7.5 man hours of work.
To students, this concept is like a magic trick. They really enjoy putting in a collaborative effort and admiring what does indeed seem like 7 or 8 hours’ work for a single person.
Maintaining a nice clean classroom begins with class jobs. I wrote a detailed post that explains my time-tested system for assigning jobs. I even give you an Excel spreadsheet to organize your little helpers.
Next, set aside time to tackle larger tasks. My students and I like to spruce up the classroom during the last half-hour or so before school breaks. Coming back to a sparkly clean classroom helps us get back in the swing of things.
Make two lists, and write them on the board. One list is for jobs everyone should do. Once these are completed, students can tackle the community service list. It’s extra fun if they get to sign the board by jobs they completed.
–Clean out their own desk
–Get rid of loose paper. It’s the enemy of organization.
–Keep only 1 or 2 books from our classroom library. Return extras to their rightful place
–Pick up scraps under or near their desk
–Clean your desk and chair with a Lysol wipe
Community Service: Sign your name after you do a job
–Organize class library
–Organize game cabinet
–Clean the lunch bucket (we use it to carry cold lunches to the cafeteria)
–Wipe down cabinets
–Invent a task, do it, and write what you did on the board. Then sign your name.
I don’t recommend giving treats or any sort of incentive to the kids who complete community service. The reason? Students LOVE to do chores at school, and they will be competing to get these jobs done. If you tie an incentive to it, you will create chaos and competition rather than cooperation. Seriously.
Now, step back and admire your shiny clean classroom!