As a teacher, I firmly believe that students can learn anything. This applies to academics, character, and …. helping you around your classroom! Today I will share some practical tips on utilizing classroom jobs to save time.
Benefits of Classroom Jobs
- Provides students a sense of ownership and community in their classroom
- When done correctly, classroom jobs can remove another task off the teacher’s ever-growing to-do list (Not to mention, many students did the job better than I would!)
- Students enjoy the extra responsibility!
Types of Jobs
There are two buckets of jobs in my mind. There are jobs that are happening every day that make a classroom function. I have a student who is responsible for signing out students who go to the restroom, a student who takes attendance for me, a table captain who is responsible for stacking their table group’s papers, and a materials manager who is responsible for picking up manipulatives and putting them away.
The other type of job I have is the catch-all of anything that I don’t want to spend my time doing, but a student would love to do! This includes putting student work on bulletin boards, putting stickers on mastery trackers, or organizing and plugging in technology. Other not so official jobs include: filling up my water bottle, throwing trash away for me, grabbing my whistle, putting my jacket back in my classroom because it is hotter than I thought it was, and telling so and so to hurry up in the bathroom.
Let Go of Perfect
If you are a little controlling and want perfection each time, you will have trouble giving jobs to students. The opportunity cost is that while you may get some time and energy back to devote to other tasks, your bulletin board letters could be off-center and you end up redoing it because it drives you crazy. Choose jobs that can be done by students that will not impact you or your classroom if they aren’t perfect or end up being messed up.
Teacher Task or Student Job?
A great way to decide whether a job should be yours or should be given to a student is to ask yourself, “In the time that I could explain how to do this and answer any questions, could I have finished it myself?” Consider the consequences if the job is done completely wrong.
One time I had a teacher’s aide cut out squares for a matching activity that I needed for the next day. I told her that she had to be methodical about how she cut and sorted because the sets couldn’t be mixed up. This student was in high school, so I walked away thinking how I would get to go home early. BIG MISTAKE! I should have monitored or at least had her repeat my instructions back. What is worse is that I didn’t realize that she mixed all the sets up until my first class tried unsuccessfully to use them. I then had to come up with something new on the fly!
On the other hand, if you can train one or two students to complete a job that needs to be done on a regular basis throughout the entire year, do it! For example, I used the same 3 students to update my payday tracker. They knew what each color means, and they saved me around 20-30 minutes per week. These lovely students came in at lunch, knew where to find the information and they were done by the end of two lunches.
I firmly believe that the BEST classroom job I ever assigned was the student who reminded me to take attendance. They would also tell me if anyone was absent. This saved me the shame of the front office messaging me asking me to PLEASE TAKE ATTENDANCE!
Students LOVE helping teachers. “Who can help me with …” is usually met with a raised hand from even the most apathetic students. Student jobs are seen as rewards rather than a chore. What student jobs do you have in your classroom?
Other Thoughts + Brainstorming JOBS
**When I am referring to students, I do not mean every single student that you teach. I am referring to a select few that finish their work early or are so eager to help that they would eat lunch in your classroom.
Jobs Students Should Do
- Anything requiring cutting
- Updating charts, points, stickers, etc
- Putting things away (think materials, manipulatives, technology)
- Straightening desks/clean up at the end of the day
- Hanging student work
- Decorating your door
- Organizing supply buckets
- Organizing calculators
- Recording who has turned in certain items (permission slip, form from home, etc)
- Picking up trash
- Chair stacker (or unstacker)
- Bathroom manager
- Seating chart maker/helper