Dealing with Cleanliness in the Classroom

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It's important to keep and maintain a clean and tidy classroom environment for a number of reasons. First of all, it helps to avoid the spread of those pesky germs. Secondly, it helps to avoid the disgusting smells that may linger throughout the day. When you have over twenty children all breathing the same air, that air is filled with bacteria (kids blowing their nose) and the smell of food from the children's snacks and lunchboxes. This can all potentially give you health problems if the classroom is not kept clean. Besides the negative impact it may have on your health, it's always a good idea to keep your classroom clean to show students the importance of living in a clean environment (not to mention that it can be embarrassing for others to see such a mess). Here is a great way to maintain a clean classroom, along with a few maintenance tips.

How to Maintain a Clean Classroom

Children are well-known for leaving a mess and "forgetting" to pick up after themselves. Often times many of us find that they will clean up their mess, but only if we remind them to. Teachers spend a lot of time picking up scraps of paper off the floor, or finding books left in places where they shouldn't be. This precious time should be spent instructing students, but more often then less it usually falls on the teacher to clean up. To solve this issue and take back your teaching time, try passing some responsibility off to your students. Here's how to implement cleanup monitors:

  1. Assign one student (who is in a row or in a group of desks) the job as a pre-monitor. Their job is to check the desks in their section before class even starts. If they find anything then they report it to the monitor.
  2. Assign another student the job as a monitor. Their job is to check the desks and the surrounding area after each lesson or activity. If they find anything under someones desk they must politely ask them to pick it up. If the student doesn't listen, the monitor then reports to the teacher for further instructions.
  3. Assign a third student the job as a checker. Their job is to check anything that the pre-monitor or monitor missed throughout the day.

Tip: Rotate jobs each week so that all students get a turn at each of the three jobs.

This system works very well for elementary students. You will find that by using this system you will have a lot more instructional time. It also instills good cleaning habits in your students, as well as teaches them responsibility.

Tips for Keeping Your Classroom Tidy

  1. Offer a reward (i.e.homework pass) as an incentive for keeping the inside and outside of students' desks clean.
  2. Each day before school lets out crank up the music and have a cleaning party.
  3. One of the main problems teachers have is paper on the floor. Keep a recycle bin close to each section of desks to eliminate this problem.
  4. Cover desks in newspaper if you are going to glue or paint to help eliminate a mess.
  5. To avoid clutter designate certain areas of the classroom for students to keep their belongings (lunch box, backpack, etc.).

Are you looking for more information and tips? Here you will learn how to teach responsibility with classroom jobs, create a classroom job chart, and maintain a productive classroom, right here on's Elementary Education channel.