I am rather surprised to report that classroom cleaning has gone too far.
The road to the current situation of over-cleaning began with the problem of too much being left out at the end of the day. A dense layer of pencils, folders, papers, pencils, a plastic fork from lunch, pencils, a tissue, journals, a math game piece, books, a glue stick, plus a couple of pencils, spread evenly throughout the classroom is a typical scene after the kids have gone. During dismissal, I send out troops to find 4 things that aren't where they belong and to return them to their rightful places. The pencil sharpeners go hunting for far-flung pencils. I steer kids in the direction of the folders they've left on their tables. This seems to do miraculously little, though, to reduce the number of forgotten items strewn around the room.
Then came the advent of the purple basket. Into this purple basket I toss everything that hasn't been shelved, foldered, cubbied, trashed, recycled, boxed, or tubbed where it should by the end of dismissal. During morning meeting, we review the contents of the purple basket and try to beat the clock to hasten it all to a suitable home.
One afternoon, Tyrica asked if she could be on purple basket duty. Clearly this was a far superior plan than me being on purple basket duty. A new classroom job was born.
Each day at dismissal, Tyrica's haul has been growing larger. She rounds up folders, papers, pencils, books, and has been lately prone to basketing items that are still actively in use. Kids in the middle of putting their homework into their backpack have been finding an empty spot where they just set their folder down.
This afternoon Tyrica cast the net of "abandoned items" a bit too far. "Sticky notes!" she announced and reached for the yellow pad of sticky notes on the table. In my hand. On which I was writing.
"These aren't left out, I'm writing on them!" I exclaimed.
"It looks like you're just holding the marker over the paper, stroking it on there" she observed.
"Yes. That, in fact, is what I'm doing. Holding the marker over the paper and 'stroking it on there' is called....writing."
Tyrica moved on to another corner of the room, rustling up her daily basketful. I think it's time to clarify that this is not a contest for how big a collection she can amass....
If you are in our room at the end of the day and have any supplies you value, watch out for our over-eager cleaner!