All the students and staff clean their school!
No one has to say ANYTHING to keep the children cleaning – they just do it! Inside and out, they make sure everything is back in it’s place.
One of the agreements, (remember, agreements are made by all staff and students together) is to clean up after yourself, and some cleaning happens throughout the day, but at the end of the day, a cleaning frenzy starts and doesn’t stop until everything is cleaned and organized. It is a magical thing to see, although the staff and students don’t think anything of it, it is part of their community driven day.
Schools in Japan also employ this method, and research has shown that students are more respectful of their space with greater appreciation for their materials, and increased pride in their schools.
After working in the public school system, where students are more likely to not take care of their environment, seeing these students working to make their environment nice was refreshing.
I feel kind of bad that I took so many pictures of the kids cleaning – like it’s some stupendous feat! When in reality, this is how communities should work, everyone does their part, from the youngest to the oldest (even the guests, myself included, were inspired to help clean).
Some students have assigned tasks. They used to rotate jobs, but then during change up (remember, change up is the weekly meeting where students and staff decide what needs to change and they implement solutions one at a time until they find one that works), they decided some students would have the same jobs and some would rotate jobs. No one was confused as to what they were supposed to be doing, and there were no slackers – everyone worked on cleaning up until the job was done.
No one complained or tried to say it wasn’t their mess and ask why they should clean it, they just worked individually or in groups. They cleaned up after each other and worked together to get everything back in place.
I spent some time outside, and you can see a student outside working too. The students put everything away inside and out. The pillows that had been taken outside for pillow fights were now back inside and any outdoor toys were put away neatly in their places as well.
This is how I imagine a well functioning family working, and while I think these kids are exceptional in their own way, they are not unique as far as kids go. They are just every day average kids who function well in this learning environment and are happy to be a part of the Heartwood community.