Giving students classroom jobs certainly has benefits, but some teachers find it a drag to create and manage classroom jobs. Let’s take a look at both sides.
One of the most common reasons given for assigning classroom jobs is that they help teach kids responsibility. While this is an important lesson, kids learn responsibility other ways. They learn it from taking care of class materials and turning in homework and helping with clean up. Classroom jobs are one more way to instill this and give students a chance to practice.
Perhaps more importantly, classroom jobs help build community. Through jobs, students learn that they contribute to the classroom community. They help you and their classmates. They may take on leadership roles. And because everybody has a job, it is clear that everybody contributes to a community.
Classroom jobs can help your class run more smoothly—or they may feel like one more thing you need to create and manage. Here are a few things to think about when you create and implement jobs.
What classroom jobs to have
First, choose jobs well. Think through your day and activities that happen monthly, weekly, daily or multiple times in a day. These might include:
- leaving the room as a class
- calendar updates, weather report, and a greeting as part of a morning meeting
- snack and lunch
- passing out and collecting papers
- bringing messages to the office or other places in the school
- cleaning white boards
- watering plants
Some of these tasks create more than one job. For example, leaving the room as a class makes room for a line leader, caboose/line ender, and door holder. Morning meetings often have space for multiple jobs, such as starting a greeting, leading a song, updating a calendar, or other jobs based on the parts of your meeting.
You may also want to include a Helper or two. The Helper can assist as needed. For example, if your regular Messenger is absent, the Helper would take over. If you have lots of papers to hand out, the Helper can assist the person who regularly holds that job.
Managing classroom jobs
Decide how often you will rotate jobs. Once a week works for most jobs. This means that a student who doesn’t like their job isn’t stuck with it too long, and everyone should get a chance to hold popular jobs.
A job chart makes it easy to track who has done what and to rotate through the list. It’s a good reminder for kids what their job is. If they forget, you can direct them to the chart to help them remember. And if students are begging to do a particular job—”Can I be first in line?”—the chart helps remind them that it is not their turn, but that they will get one and have another job to do this week.
Start with job charts right away. At the beginning of the year, you will have to explain to students how to do each job. For example, you’ll tell how to hand out papers,“Place a paper on each person’s desk, face up,” while you demonstrate. Then let the paper hander try it. The line leader needs to learn to wait for your signal to start walking, an appropriate pace to walk, not to bypass an adult leading your group, and what to do when you reach the destination (do you wait outside the gym or do you open the door and go right in?)
Once students learn their jobs things should go smoothly. Some students will need reminders about doing the job correctly. Others may need prompts to do their job. To help with the latter, make job chart review part of your morning routine. It doesn’t have to take long and helps set students up to do their jobs each day.
What is the most popular job in your class?
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These resources will get your year off to a great start and carry you throughout the school year too!