School days are busy days. There are few spare moments available to consider and attend to matters not directly focused on teaching and learning. Tight timetabling means that teachers and their classes have very little time that is not devoted to predetermined activities.

Because of teaching and learning pressures, it can be easy to overlook fundamentals that contribute to character development and the establishment of good habits. Teaching and learning outcomes are important. However attention needs to be paid to appearance, tidiness and general order of classroom and school. Without these considerations poor work, study habits and civic attitudes can develop. Important priorities and personal habits can be discounted. Among the things that should be considered are the following.

• Desk tidiness should be encouraged. This includes desk surfaces and storage area for books and other items. Setting aside a few minutes every day or two to make sure students desks meet a standard pays dividends. It also ensures that children are quickly able to find things they need for upcoming lessons.
• Student lockers and bag recesses need periodic checking. All sorts of things from discarded clothing to rejected food items can finish up in these places.
• Many students eat lunch inside or just outside classrooms. If duty teachers check before lunch boxes are returned to bags or refrigerators, paper, plastic wrappers and fruit peel will go into the bin where it belongs. This may not seem like much, but it reinforces hygienic practices.
• Organising a “monitor roster” of students to take responsibility for keeping areas of classrooms and learning spaces tidy can work. This might include benches, ledges, library book displays, the floor, wet areas and so on. It’s not a case of cleaning up after others but reminding everyone of their need to contribute to classroom care.
• Spending a minute or so at the beginning of each break to make sure everything is off the floor and that desktops are tidy, establishes a good cleanliness habit for all children. Reminders may be necessary but with time and consistency good habits will develop.
• Common areas including toilets and the schoolyard, verandahs and the school library deserve care from everyone. Duty teachers, the school leadership team and indeed all staff should be part of this effort. General tidiness is also an area that might involve the Student Representative Council.

For tidy school programs to work well, all members of staff need to contribute. For instance, teachers’ tables and personal storage areas in classrooms and elsewhere should be kept in the way that sets an example to all students,

Tidiness is an attribute we all need. With it, generally comes personal organisation which helps the way in which school facilities are used and shared. Tidiness is a habit that will be useful throughout life.

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