Montessori environments are uniquely prepared for the students using them, and the cleaning and maintenance of these uniquely prepared environments usually falls to a team of adults to address.
The Montessori environment is built by the principles and practice of order and beauty which manifest in the care and maintenance of the environment.
Over the years I’ve worked with a variety of teams that are more or less effective in their maintenance of the classroom. When teams are not on the same page regarding why, how, when, and what to clean, it can fracture the team in multiple ways! When you work together to create a Cleaning Plan, you are far more likely to keep up the preparation and maintenance of the environment and you’re far less likely to run into resentment or frustration about who does what when!
Let this tutorial guide your team to create an effective Cleaning Plan
- Identify each of the adults on the team, their schedules, and percentage of their role committed to prepare, maintain, and clean the learning environment.
- Consider daily morning, noon, and closing tasks, and which tasks can/should be done with children present, and which tasks should be done without students in the environment.
- Chart tasks on a laminated weekly checklist.
- Use different colors of fonts or line items to delineate who does what when.
- Create a plan for substitute support staff and include a section for training them on the job.
- Discuss and negotiate pet peeve chores.
- Establish and calendar quarterly team check-ins (or more frequently for newly acquired habits). Re-evaluate the efficacy of the chores and the chart and adjust accordingly.
- Address the conflict in a timely and kind matter if problems arise such as the division of labor or the quality of cleaning.
- Communicate overall values and goals of keeping an orderly, clean environment for students to explore.
- Field questions re: order in the environment, how to promote independence, how to model cleaning with students, and location of cleaning supplies.
- Note regulatory and/or routines as tasks such as sanitizing bottle labeling and snack procedures.
- Consider wearing aprons when doing chores to both protect your professional clothing and to elevate the honor of the tasks.
- Brainstorm a quick system for daily and deep cleaning and prepare cleaning kits accordingly.
- Adopt an effective technique to deep clean one curriculum area a day in addition to quarterly “deep cleans”.
- Use a feather duster to clean shelving during student’s work cycle. Model how to effectively dust and supervise. Make sure there is a child-sized one too!
To get you started, I’m offering you a free daily checklist as an example to build your own, or if it fits your needs, you’re welcome to use mine!
-by Tammy Oesting
Tammy Oesting has spent the last 25 years delivering professional development workshops, consulting schools, and educating new Montessori teachers. Her passions include issues of social justice, educating support staff, art education, neuroscience as applied to educational practices, and exploring the magnificence of the world. She is location independent and serves Montessori globally through her company ClassrooMechanics. AMS certified 3-6, 6-12