A 1st year LYS Principal asks…




Like every other new Principal, I have been given the advice by many to, “Not change anything the first year.”


But my school is a MESS. The classrooms are junky and disorganized!  Should I wait when I know kids are surrounded by chaos? Or, should I address this now?


SC Response

Addressing classroom set-up and environment concerns ought to be easy, but it isn’t.  Teachers take any critique of their rooms very personally. Even more so than a critique of their instructional practice. But to ignore messy, disorganized, chaotic classrooms is doing three things:


  1. Impeding student academic performance.
  2. Escalating student discipline issues.
  3. Hampering teacher effectiveness.


I would use the upcoming Christmas Break to address the room issue. But I would do some prep work.


  1. I would get someone with some credibility from outside the campus to come look at our classrooms. If that person says there is a problem, more people will listen than if the messenger is from inside the campus. LYS can help with this.
  2. I would take the credible outsider’s concern as a call to action, “This is a problem with an easy fix. Let’s Do This!”
  3. I would quickly organize a small committee of teachers (pick the teachers who don’t have room issues or are open to improved practices) to create a basic room set-up and appearance rubric. The rubric must be based on the practices that are aligned with improved student performance. LYS can help with this.
  4. When we get back from Thanksgiving, I would have a Wednesday or Thursday night staff “Party.” Bring in some pizza’s after school and everyone says to clean out all the trash and clutter from their rooms and offices. Yes, administrators and professional support staff must “walk-the-walk” with any organized, clean room initiative. Otherwise, as a hypocrite, you deserve all the grief that teachers give you. Have some prizes for the most filled trash bags, oldest found work sheet, etc.
  5. Prior to the Christmas Break, meet with teachers during conference periods to go over the soon to be implemented committee-built classroom rubric and to answer questions. LYS can help with this.
  6. Before a teacher leaves for Christmas Break, her room must be cleaned and emptied like it is the end of the school year. Have someone check the room to confirm this has been done. Clean, empty rooms allow the custodians to DEEP CLEAN the rooms during the break (if they are on duty for some extra days).
  7. When teachers return in January, they set up their room based on the new committee designed classroom set-up rubric. Which should not take more than an hour, two at most. Anyone who needs more time should refer to the rubric.


Voila, fresh, clean, effective classrooms for the start of the Spring Semester!

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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