checkered-flagDo You Find Your Classrooms in The Pits?

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has indicated we have been cleared for landing. Please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. The flight attendants are currently passing around the cabin to make a final compliance check and pick up any trash, newspapers, or unwanted items. Your cooperation allows us to turn around faster at the gate and reduce unnecessary cleaning cost. Keeping fares low is our commitment to you our customer”

Many of us recognize this script all to well and I did a rather good job of recall as I just typed it with no backspacing. The message is clear and the customer willingly participates in the policing of his/her immediate environment. Lower cost and providing an optimal appearance experience for the next passenger brings home an experience that the current passenger recalls and relates to. The late Dr. Ernest L. Boyer, former President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is credited with recalling the experience of education and how a clean and attractive environment is the centerpiece around which all activities of academic excellence take place.

After an excess of 50,000 building inspections I have seen the good, the bad and certainly the ugly. I also have seen the pristine classroom at 6:00 a.m. immediately after it was serviced and ready for the first class occupants at 8:00 a.m. What is sad is that by 4:00 p.m. the classroom is no longer resembling pristine and is cluttered with trash, sticky beverage rings on desk and “I’m not sure what that is” on chairs. The student experience later in the day becomes distracted and less than focused as soil load and debris fill the once chamber of academic excellence.


In ten seconds a professionally choreographed pit crew can clean the windshield, change four tires, and fuel a racecar. The pit crew is part of the team whose actions and speed add to the opportunity of victory.

I have had the pleasure of watching the classroom Refresh Team (pit crew) at the Harvard School of Law. Consisting of the Jack man (repositions all seating in the space and removes litter from desk), The Fuel Man (removes waste from containers and relines picks up any loose debris in the circulation space of the room), and finally the Windshield cleaner (Cleaning six large blackboards, chalk trays and restoring clean erasers and new chalk). All in two minutes. The Classroom Refresh Team stands poised outside the door of the breaking classroom and with a nod they go into action upon leaving the room it is a series of high fives and a check of the watch, another record time.

Harvard may have taken Dr. Boyer’s message too literally or did they. Not every College or University can support such a level of service but the outcome is desired and welcomed. I appeal to all those Educators in Academia to take only the ten seconds required to solicit YOUR CLASS participation in something meaningful and perhaps end your lecture with:

“I have concluded my lecture before you leave check around your seats for all of your personal items and please take your waste with you. Waste and Recycling containers are located immediately outside the classroom door”

Just like in the airline industry reducing cost of service while maintaining high appearance is a good marketing tool.

Like in Nascar the Custodial efforts need to be swift, and effective wasted time performing unnecessary service increases cost and impacts tuition and affording quality Educators.

Dr. Boyer’s legacy lives on.

Your comments and feedback on this issue are welcomed and share this copy with Educators and Administrators. I am certain through awareness we can make a difference and improve the learning experience.

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