By Teachers, For Teachers
Spring is in full bloom, and that means it’s time to get out the cleaning supplies and spruce up your classroom. After a long winter filled with classroom chaos, your materials may have accidently gotten shoved into places that they do not belong. Spring is the perfect time to get reorganized and give your classroom a brand new look. Here are a few spring cleaning tips and tricks to help make your classroom shine bright, and give your students (and yourself) some new motivation to finish off the rest of the school year.
It’s time to get rid of all of the things that no longer serve you and your classroom. To get started, make a few piles: Trash, keep, and give away. If you are not using it, then either give it away or trash it. Teachers tend to keep every little piece of paper thinking they will need it someday. If you haven’t used it in a while, the chances are that you are not going to use it in the future. For the items and papers that you want to keep, make sure you organize them into bins or containers that are clearly labeled. Sort through all of your loose paperwork and be sure to place them into the correctly labeled bin.
After you have gotten rid of the things that you no longer need, it’s time to organize all of things that you do need. Make sure that you have a space and a place for everything. That means that everything must be organized into a bin, container, file, or shelf, and be clearly labeled. Use bookshelves to organize books, or place small containers filled with manipulatives or odd-shaped items onto the shelves. Use plastic crates to hold files, dress up clothes, or toys. Take a plastic three-drawer container and organize items into it. Make sure that all of the materials that you use on a regular basis are easily accessible and labeled.
Evaluate your classroom arrangement. Ask yourself if you have any furniture that you are not using that would free up some more space. Does your classroom carpet need a cleaning or do you need a new one? Does the bookshelf by the math center still serve its purpose? Look around your classroom and make a change that will suite your needs for the rest of the school year.
Now that you have thrown away what you don’t need, and organized everything that you do need, it’s time to clean your classroom and get rid of all of that dirt and grime that has been hiding all winter long. Experts suggest to start at the top and work your way down. That means that you should take a moment and look up at your ceiling and see where you should start. If you have any classroom projects up there, take them down. Start dusting from the top and work your way down to the floor. Dust bookshelves and cabinets, clean the windows, and wash the walls. Enlist the help of your students to dust and wipe down wherever they can reach. Create a game out of it or put on some music on and let students boogie down while they wipe down their desks.
Keep your classroom displays current. Remove any old materials or student work from the lessons you were teaching, and put up any new student work from what students are working on right now. If the students created what you took down, then send it home with them. If they did not, then either file it away in your newly organized file cabinet, or throw it away of if it no longer serves you. Create a fresh new bulletin board that correlates with the spring or what you are currently working on.
Do not try and get everything done in one day. All of your dirt and clutter did not just appear, it took some time to get there, just like it will take some time to clean and organize it. Make a plan and stick to your plan. Create a schedule that works for you. For instance, on Monday, your students clean out their desks, on Tuesday you take everything off the walls, on Wednesday you out on some music and have the students wipe down everything in the classroom, and so on. Take it one day at a time.
Spring cleaning may take some effort but is definitely worth it. Once your clutter is tackled, you will feel great, and your classroom will look great. You will feel invigorated and ready to take on anything in your clean and organized classroom.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share that makes spring cleaning easier for you? If so, please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear all about them.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.