Clean up strategies...

I now have a brand new classroom! I've been so busy with moving three old classrooms into a new school that I haven't worked on this blog at all. I plan to put some pictures up soon to show off the amazing space I now get to work with. Unfortunately, I only teach part time in my new space because my position was cut due to budget issues in my district. This means that my new room is empty for half the day!

Ooops...I don't want to get too distracted. I really want to write about some management strategies I've been working on because my new room has three sinks! I didn't have any sinks before and this is a big change. It was very difficult using 5 gallon buckets to get the kids cleaned up at the end of class and the water was hard to change but I managed through it. Now that I have sinks I'm working on mastering the best way to get the tables clean, the students clean, the materials put away, and also making sure the floor stays dry! 

The best solution that I've worked out for this is to assign sinks to specific tables. In my new room I have 6 tables. Each one is labeled with a color from the rainbow. Sink #1 is assigned to Red and Orange tables, Sink #2 is assigned to Yellow and Green, and Sink #3 is assigned to Blue and Purple. Each sink has a tote with 4 colored sponges (that match the tables), 4 plastic water cups, and 4 drying rags. There are also tubs at each of the sinks with water in them for dropping used brushes into. 

All tables are asked to start clean up by clearing their tables. Projects go on the drying rack, brushes and water cups get dropped off at the sink, and other materials returned to the cart. Then I remind students about proper use of sponges, the sinks, running, and line up procedures. I call on two people from each table to be spongers and two people to be dryers. The spongers wash while the dryers push in chairs. They line up while the dryers finish the tables. Dryers line up shortly after. 

At times this can be a little chaotic. I have to remind students not to run, sometimes I find drying rags in the sink, and voices can get a little high. This is a new routine for my students so the first and second weeks were pretty rough. I had to remind myself that this will take practice and that it is a new and exciting activity for students. 

Going into my third week using these clean up strategies I have noticed students adapting to the new procedures. It takes at least ten minutes start to finish but the tables are clean and ready for the next group that arrives just as the cleaning group is silently lined up and waiting.

I'm sure that there are many other ways to do this. Any tips or other ideas?