Clean Rooms

With everything that has been on the news, teachers have been at the forefront of advocating and pressing for clean(er) schools. I get it, with upwards of a thousand or more people coming in and out of one building–during flu and allergy season–a lot of surfaces need a good wipe. Now, with coronavirus, that sense of urgency or obligation is heightened–I get that too.

I always believed in a clean classroom. In the early days I would even come, before school, to my classroom, just to dust and wipe down surfaces. I’m kind of a neat-freak anyway, but I also knew that sometimes school is the nicest place for a child, and the cleanliness of my classroom, the sparkle and shine, the pride I wanted to exude, was an extension of giving my students that nice-place-feel. By putting extra effort into cleaning I felt I made safety and security more tangible.

After some time though, I either had to give up or ask for help. It’s hard to keep a classroom neat and orderly. Interestingly enough, kids are way more enthusiastic about cleaning than I ever anticipated or imagined.

So, if you’re cleaning here are some tips and ideas to involve the kids and really make your room shine:

  • Clorox wipes can be harsh on little hands–and harsh on our wallet. Try using baby wipes instead. Give everyone one wipe and let them go to town.
  • Vinegar, water, and an orange peel make for a great sanitizing spray. Spray surfaces, allow students to wipe down (can use baby wipes or paper towels for wiping).
  • Make your own hand sanitizer—all it takes is aloe vera and alcohol. It can be a little experiment or recipe lesson for students, but try it first at home and test it out, all recipes take practice!
  • Get some castille soap, dilute, and viola–hand soap for the classroom.
  • Go old school: clean with shaving cream! For the primary folks, practice letters, numbers, shapes, and sight words with shaving cream. It can get messy but it’s tactile and helps clean the room.
  • Assign added tasks and duties to tables, individuals, and groups. Designate the sink space, the carpet, the bookshelves, the chairs, the coat rack, whatever is in your classroom, as someone’s specific lead and/or responsibility.

Whatever you do, whatever you try, make sure to involve others. A classroom and school belongs to all of us, so we each have to do our part to keep it nice and clean. Cleaning skills are life skills, by including our students we teach them critical life lessons. By including our students, we also allow them to take pride in their school, to see their collective power, and to have another chance to work together. It’s just cleaning, but it can be so much more if we do it right.

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