How faculties take care of shared supplies in school rooms
Classrooms are common rooms in which students share teaching materials: from the pillows in the class library to the tissue box on their teacher’s desk. Teachers love creating environments to share. But this year wasn’t a typical school year (and even now, in 2021, that probably won’t change). What was once shared is now individual. Here’s what the schools are doing (plus some tips and teacher hacks) so you can deal with shared materials and keep your sanity as we enter the new year.
Keep supplies separate with small bags or kits
So many of the supplies our children (especially our youngest learners) use are shared. From math manipulations to indoor break toys, it’s hard to imagine students using individual materials and keeping them to themselves. How does that work in a real classroom? Science teachers create custom lab kits containing the materials students will need to complete their work. Elementary school teachers pack practical supplies so that each student has their own set. The cushions in the class library are stored and the students read at their desks. If this is not possible, the teachers disinfect the sets between uses.
Label everything (and we mean everything)
Before COVID-19, when pencils, erasers and other supplies were left on desks or on the floor, it was “finder-keeper”. I even had a jar on my desk for the supplies I found in my classroom at the end of the day (you can never have too many pens). This year we have to be much more careful. Schools encourage students to label their supplies. Anything that is communal must be cleaned and disinfected between each use. It’s not realistic that we can clean pens every day, so labeling everything is a must.
Add extra space at student desks
Once students arrive in their classrooms, they will need a safe place to store their belongings and materials. Social distancing is a challenge with cubbies and lockers that are close together. Tara Dusko, a third grade teacher in Ohio, added a milk crate to keep under the desk and a box for desk drawers to her supply list. “A big change this year is that students cannot share their supplies. Make it easy for them to customize by having specific places to keep all of their belongings, ”she suggests.
Encourage individual packs of tissues and pencil sharpeners
When students are working at their desks, they likely need to sharpen their pens or blow their noses. Teachers do not use tissue boxes or pencil sharpeners in the classroom. Instead, students need their own. Some teachers hang tissue boxes upside down over their classroom sinks so students can easily (and safely) grab a tissue, blow their nose, throw it away, and wash their hands in one place!
Replace water fountains with individual water bottles
Students get thirsty during class! Water fountains are surfaces with high contact. This year students will need a labeled water bottle. Christina Brauner, a fourth grade teacher in Missouri, bought bicycle water bottle holders for less than a dollar each and fastened them to desk legs with zip ties. Now she no longer has to worry about students spilling their water or accidentally dropping their bottle on the floor throughout the work. Genius!