As children entered the room today, the first words out of their mouths were, "What's that smell?" Sadly, I have little sense of smell which made for a difficult time with regard to potty training and diaper changing, but in a smelly classroom it's a blessing.
I didn't pay too much attention until their cries became louder and I realized this wasn't just a typical smelly situation. With a brief bit of investigation, we found two plastic bottles of sour milk and quickly got rid of those.
Then when the next group came in, it was if the smell pushed them back out of the room. They cried in anguish as they covered their noses, "What's that smell!" That led to a greater investigation to see if a little mouse perhaps found its way into the room and died. We looked behind shelves and cabinets, and found no dead rodents or any other evidence that led to the smell's origin. We did discover, however, that some of that sour milk on the floor and wiped it up.
Later when the homeroom students returned we did a thorough clean-up of desks and classroom nooks and crannies. We found more old food in a few students' desks and a rotten apple in the bottom of the lunch bin. After all that cleaning, students had a recess outside in the fresh air, while a few volunteer students and I put the classroom back together.
Just yesterday, I remarked to a colleague that this time of year is the beginning of the end of the year and that it's time to wear our flexibility vests. That's not to say we always experience smelly classrooms in the spring, but instead to recognize that spring brings tests, special projects, field studies, and at times, tired teachers and students which means that there's more change, new schedules, less support, and more surprises than usual. Today was a good example of that, and luckily we had those "flexibility vests" on and dealt with the smelly room as an opportunity to clean up and get ready for test season and the great STEAM projects ahead. Onward.