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Thursday, February 12, 2015

What A Way To Wipe

     Today I want to talk about something quite unusual. Apart from what I usually complain about - and I do realize there's plenty of that already - this is something that only happens once a month: cleaning the 3B classroom.
     We clean the school everyday of course, but since I've stopped eating with the 1st years I only rotate between 2A/B and then 3A/B. There's usually nothing to say of it either. In that respect this isn't a complaint so much as an observation of inefficiency that I wanted to make a note of.
     Before we start it would be helpful to think of the cleaning procedures for classrooms as being a single pages torn from the playbook of 'Clean The School' as they're essentially patterned and repeated processes. I drew up some helpful diagrams to illustrate my point. First we'll start with similarities.

Your standard classroom layout.
      Pictured above is the typical layout for a Japanese classroom and is exactly the way that each room in my school appears. Desks are organized into pairs and in these sets they are spaced evenly from the back of the room all the way to the front allowing for a bit of space to put the much larger desk reserved for the teacher. I would call it a lectern but it is actually just an over-sized and much taller desk. For cleaning time the desks are moved to one side as depicted below.

Chairs are placed upside down on desks and the set is moved to one side.
      The 'bunching of the desks' actually occurs right after lunch is over. Sometimes the students won't move the teacher's desk or other smaller tables which may happen to still be at the front. Anything left is moved at the start of cleaning time. At this stage, a pair of students will go fill a bucket of water (stored in the broom closet), and a lone student will wipe down the chalkboard, dusting the erasers if needed. A majority of the class is located elsewhere on campus cleaning in designated groups at specified locations. This is where things start to get different depending on the class in question.
That's right. Math.
      I'll start with what I believe to be the single best routine that 3A runs. As you can see the desks are now at one side leaving plenty of space for students to wipe the floors with small rags that are kept just outside the classrooms. They move in turn wiping one after another each covering a small fraction of where the other has been. In the diagram students are represented by X. They move in sequence: X1, X2, X3... all the way to X(N-1) and then finally XN, where N is the amount of wipes necessary for even coverage.  This is followed up with a beautiful move noted by Y. Students will then wipe perpendicular to the last direction, only requiring two or possibly three goes before all the garbage is located in the "Collection Zone" at which point I come by and sweep it up. I should add that before the wiping process commences I make sure to sweep garbage into either the collection path or to the opposite side of the room should it be closer to that end.

Variations On Wiping.
      Here's an alternate game plan that the second years run occasionally. It's a bit lazier in appearance I'll grant you, but it works and is still efficient. Also, each of the patterns you're seeing are mirrored after completion such that the entire floor, in theory, is cleaned. 

     This is the one that I can't get behind. There's no sequence, it allows for spots, and the potential area in which garbage can be collected is basically anywhere along the wall in question. While others wipe parallel to the chalkboard the teacher who runs this class will occasionally run perpendicular and vice-verse meaning that we're often duplicating our efforts.

Also, she takes the long broom and gives me the short one every time. Even if she's already using the short broom she'll take the long one out of my hand after I go get it.

So maybe that's where this is coming from.


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