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Student Desk Cleaning Strategy

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As a meek fourth grader, I was a disorganized mess.

I shoved every paper into a binder – and didn’t actually clip the papers into it.

So there were always things flying out of the binder, smashed corners peeking out, and crumpled up pages that I could never find.

And that was just the binder. Imagine the horrendous hot mess of a desk I also had.

It gives me chills to think about it now. Ha!

I always wondered if maybe I was so disorganized because I had never been taught how to correctly organize my workspaces. So once a month or so, I have always had a "National Desk Cleaning Day" in my classroom as an activity WITH my students.

National Student Desk Cleaning Day

Somehow, someway I was able to overcome my messy habits. Enough even to start an organizational blog. How ironic!

I always wondered if maybe I was so disorganized because I had never been taught how to correctly organize my workspaces.

So once a month or so, I have always had a “National Desk Cleaning Day” in my classroom as an activity WITH my students.

Technically, National Clean Off Your Desk Day takes place on the second Monday of January each year. Who knew, right?

Steps to Student Clean-Out Day

I begin the day by announcing it is National Desk Cleaning Day. After a couple groans, we get to work. And all steps are completed together and in a specific order.

  1. All students take everything out of their desks and place the items on the top. Another option is to collect case paper box lids. They also work great for this project.
  2. Next, they start sorting. Textbooks in one pile. Folders in another. School supplies in one more. Trash gets its own pile as well.
  3. We toss/recycle trash.
  4. Using a quick squirt of scrubbing bubbles I walk around and lightly spray the inside of the desk. Students use paper towels to get the inside clean.
  5. Then we start placing items back into the desk. First, folders are neatly stacked. Then textbooks on top of those.
  6. We finish it off by taking a look at our school supplies. If there are broken pencils and dried out markers, those get tossed. Once the supplies are cleaned out, they either get placed in the pencil bag or in the desk tray (depending on what type of desks you might have).
  7. Last up I do another round of cleaning spray on the top of the desks and students wipe those down as well.

All in all “National Desk Cleaning Day” takes about 10 minutes. But if we do it once a month, students lose far less wok. And the work that is turned in is far more legible and less crunched up.

Plus – I hope that they will never be like me in not actually knowing how to organize a space. I can feel confident that I have taught them an important life skill that can be transferred to many things.

Having a neat and clean personal space is important for gaining their own confidence and a safer learning environment.

BONUS TIP

Here is an extra quickie tip for those of you who have student desks with lids. 

I don’t know about you, but it drives me bonkers to no end when they slam them shut – or let them drop and the desk top clangs on the bottom metal part.

I actually saw a great idea somewhere that suggested using sliced up wine cork to quiet slamming hanging cabinet doors, which was wonderful. 

Except – taking the time to slice up cork and then add it to student desks permanently sounded like too much of a task.  Plus, they would have picked away the cork in about 2.3 seconds anyway and we would be back at square one.

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So, my take on it was foam stickers!  I am all about easy and economical. 

Here is a quickie tip for those of you who have student desks with lids. It drives me bonkers when they slam them shut and it makes a huge clanging noise.

You could do this one of 2 ways:  either grab foam sheets (in my case, all I had at home were foamy sticker discs) and hole punch them OR get some shapes that are adhesive backed instead.

Here is a quickie tip for those of you who have student desks with lids. It drives me bonkers when they slam them shut and it makes a huge clanging noise.

Attach to the places where the desk clangs (for my desk in the picture it would be the two top corners) and viola – no more clanging (for a bit anyway), but these are honestly so inexpensive that it shouldn’t cost very much to keep replacing them for wear and tear.

Here is a quickie tip for those of you who have student desks with lids. It drives me bonkers when they slam them shut and it makes a huge clanging noise.

Of course, you will have some lovelies who feel that peeling the stickers off every day is a better plan, so perhaps offering students no homework passes or extra computer time for those that still have them on their desks at random checks throughout the week might be the best way to make sure they stay put without having to permanently glue them on and risk the custodial staff coming after you for altering the classroom furniture.

Clean Desk Awards

Rewarding the positive behaviors you want to see in the classroom is always a recipe for success.

Want to have cleaner classroom areas? Use these Clean Desk Treat Cards.

Randomly leave a card and a small treat (I like new pencils) for students who keep their spaces organized. Keep a log to see who you have gifted, so hopefully everyone will get one before repeats happen.

Of course, you aren’t limited to desks. Cubbies, art supply boxes, lunch box areas, and even center locations in the classroom are all game for students helping to be more organized too.

Grab your free Clean Desk Treat Cards below.

I always wondered if maybe I was so disorganized because I had never been taught how to correctly organize my workspaces.  So once a month or so, I have always had a "National Desk Cleaning Day" in my classroom as an activity WITH my students.

Enjoy cleaning out those desks!

~Charity
Charity Preston Bio Pic

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