If you could schedule one classroom party a week and improve classroom management, would you do it? Before you answer yes, you should know that the kind of party I’m referring to is not of the celebratory variety.
You’re not going to order pizza or have a piñata. No animated videos are involved. And you don’t need parent volunteers.
But done a certain way, this party can improve your students’…
- Work habits
Together, these traits add up to a better, happier classroom, a stronger community, and easier classroom management.
So what kind of party is it?
It’s a clean-the-room party. And the way it works is simple: one day a week you will supervise a thorough cleaning of your classroom.
But if you’re not careful in your approach, you’re likely to get a lot of complaining and a halfhearted effort.
To avoid that drama and to ensure that the lessons learned from the experience resonate with your students, follow the guidelines below.
Show them how.
Whenever you introduce something new, it’s important to model what you want. To that end, show your students exactly how to perform each job successfully. While demonstrating, be clear about what you expect and about what is and isn’t acceptable.
Make it fun.
Put music on. Let your students work in teams. Let them talk and laugh and have a good time together. The room should be noisy. As long as they’re getting their work done, encourage them to have fun.
Make it work.
If it isn’t challenging, if your students don’t need to put a little elbow grease into the occasion, then you’re wasting your time–the lessons will be lost on them. Assign jobs that take time and effort to complete.
Focus on cleaning.
You should have several buckets and a couple dozen sponges. Use soap and water to clean hard surfaces. You can also have them sweep, dust, organize, throw away, empty, remove, pick-up, and vacuum (if they’re old enough).
I think it’s important for your students to see you helping. Yes, you’ll want to move around and supervise, but while you’re at it, grab a sponge and show them how it’s done.
Note: It’s also a good time to pair up with your most difficult student. Working together is a great way to build trust and rapport.
Expect good work.
Ask them to call you over when they finish so you can check their work. If you like what you see, release them to begin their reading or math work or whatever you have planned for them. If they didn’t do a good job, gently suggest ways they can make it better.
Make it a privilege.
If you have a student who resists participation, or who doesn’t try, then don’t let him or her participate. Done correctly, with all students having fun and working together, being part of a clean-the-room party is irresistible to even the most apathetic students.
There is something about doing physical work that clicks with students. A weekly cleaning party can impart the virtues of cooperation and hard work better than anything we can say to them.
When students can actually do it, when they can participate in something so simple and yet authentic, when they can work toward a common goal and see the immediate results of their efforts, then the lessons become real.
Students are often bored, disaffected, and have poor work habits because they’re indulged. In this day and age, it seems as though adults do everything for them.
But when they’re allowed to do for themselves, their sense of their own capabilities–along with their self-worth–improves. Their work habits grow stronger. They become more confident, more proficient, and more mature.
And they come to revel in a job well done–which will then translate to everything they do.
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