Over the years I have changed the way I manage classroom jobs. First, let me say that I believe classroom jobs are extremely important. It is critical that students see themselves as meaningful contributors to the class, and it is powerful for them to take on responsibilities.
The “meaningful contributors” part is what motivated my first change. I have always made sure that every student has a job every day. In trying to find enough jobs, I had lots of jobs pertaining to the calendar – “date reader,” “month reader,” “weather checker,” etc. I bought a plant just so someone could water it. I was literally hunting for jobs. But the problem was that these jobs were not actually helpful. It was easier for me to just have volunteers, and the “jobs” made things more difficult. This was not lost on the kids. They knew as well as I did, unspoken or not, that their jobs did not matter. So I changed things up. I spent some time really considering what I would like help with. I asked myself what small tasks I spend a lot of time on that I could give to my students. I found there were quite a few! Some were as simple as wiping off the snack table or moving the lunch names back to get ready for the next day. Others were things I could not do on my own – like hold two recess doors open at once! All of these jobs were immediately more meaningful because they were genuinely helpful.
My next change/tip sprang from that list. I gave myself permission to have more than one student do the same job. I have two pencil sharpeners, two lunch count messengers, four folder managers (that pass out student folders each day.) The appeal of the job was not at all diminished in this way, but I was able to find more jobs.
Next, I change some jobs as the year goes on. I always wanted to start the year with all of our jobs, but the reality is that tasks change. We don’t start the year with a counting jar, but come December we have one. So in December I need someone to peel off all of the sticky notes from our counting jar wall. In September we need a recycler (to sift through and organize the recycling bin), but by November the kids all know what can and cannot go in the bin. I don’t change jobs TOO often, but I think it is ok to change things up when it makes sense. And, as with everything else, the novelty of the change can be wonderful!
Finally, I have students keep the same job for a full week. This was huge for me. For some reason I used to think that kindergartners would get frustrated waiting for a turn for a certain job, so I changed them daily. I can say, without a doubt, that life is better for everyone now that jobs last for a week! The kids can actually remember what their jobs are! They “own” their specific responsibility, and they take pride in it.
These are the jobs I currently have: 2 line leaders, 2 pencil sharpeners, 4 folder managers, pledge leader, cubby checker, locker checker, 2 lunch count messengers, lunch count recorder, lunch name resetter, 2 snack table cleaners, marker monitor, art center manager, 2 door holders, snack warning, kindness recorder, and a substitute.
So there you have it – classroom jobs revised! What are your favorite meaningful classroom jobs? How do you help your students know that they are “meaningful contributors” in the class?