The custodial and maintenance staff isn’t just around to sweep the floors, empty the wastebaskets, and clean up messes. They play an important role in the school environment. These people are not only essential to keeping the building and grounds in top shape and presentable to the public, but also keep the various physical systems in the school in working order. These may include heating & cooling, water, plumbing, and electrical systems, and sometimes even technology. They may also put up walls, plow the snow, line the football field, repair the drinking fountains, and put together classroom furniture.
Your custodial and maintenance workers can help you in a number of ways. They certainly can keep your room and hallway in tip-top shape. Many times, custodians will pick up and collect pencils and pens from the halls, and will drop them off in your room if they know you need them.
And they will often help you out if you have requests. In many schools, their contracts and union will dictate what physical jobs can be done by school personnel other than maintenance/custodial workers. So if you’re having trouble with your room heating unit, your clock is not synchronized with those around the school, or your door is squeaky, you can usually get prompt service if they know you and know you appreciate their time and efforts. If you are well liked by the maintenance staff, your requests may often move up the priority list. And if you want those extra ‘little touches’, such as a shelf put up in your room, or document frames mounted on your walls, such favors are often the reward of your time spent building positive relationships.
Appreciation for their work can be as simple as an honest and genuine ‘thank you’. Often times, including the custodial and maintenance staff in get-togethers and school celebrations goes a long way. Some groups will purchase donuts or treats for the custodians during the year. Other groups put on dinners or cook-outs. If your students bring in any extra treats, be sure to send some down to the maintenance staff.
If you take the time to get to know these hard-working people, and build positive relationships with them, you will definitely reap the rewards. Not only will you have handy people willing to help you out when you need it, but you may even find pleasant, friendly faces in and around your school.
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Frank Holes, Jr. is the editor of the StarTeaching website and the bi-monthly newsletter, Features for Teachers. Check out our latest issue at:
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