You're not the only one who should be tidying up the classroom. Getting your students involved from the start is the way to go. Here's how.

The best way to ensure that students take an active role in maintaining the classroom is to assign classroom jobs on a rotating basis. Classroom jobs have the added benefit of giving students important responsibilities and ownership in the classroom. Rotating a variety of jobs among students will ensure that everyone is sharing these responsibilities and will help prevent jealousy over coveted jobs. Posting the list of classroom jobs with moveable student names, as shown in the Community of Helpers board below, will clarify which student is responsible for which job.

Take a look at these twenty-two job suggestions, and remember to take time early in the year to demonstrate how each of the various jobs is done. Students simply don't know how to put new staples in the stapler, reload the tape dispensers, and tap a stack of papers on the table to align pages. Once you show them, they're happy to become the in-class experts.

Room Maintenance Jobs

  • Supply Chief: keeps supplies organized and replenishes them as necessary
  • Sweeper: sweeps floor
  • Spill Crew: deals calmly and efficiently with spills of small items, juice, paint, and so on
  • Board Eraser/Board Washer: cleans all boards at the end of the day
  • Animal Caretaker: feeds pets and maintains cages or aquariums, with teacher's help when necessary
  • Plant Caretaker: waters and maintains plants
  • Recycling Chief: ensures bins are emptied regularly and reminds students to recycle whenever possible
  • Bits and Pieces Helper: crawls around under desks at the end of the day, collecting items that have been dropped (i.e., paper clips, scrap paper, pencils, math manipulatives) and returns them to their rightful place

 Teacher's Helpers

  • Paper Handler: passes out and/or collects class work, homework, blank paper, and so forth
  • Alphabetizer: puts stacks of notebooks or papers in alphabetical order so record-keeping is easier and faster for the teacher
  • Messenger: delivers notes to other teachers or to the office
  • Display Helper: "frames" work with construction paper; helps design displays, tacks them up, and takes them down

Peer Support and Leadership Roles

  • Nurse Buddy: accompanies students to the nurse's office if they are sick or hurt
  • Librarian: keeps library neat and recommends a favorite book during a morning meeting
  • Ambassador: helps visitors or new students learn their way around and keeps them company at lunch and recess; explains classroom projects or displays to parents or visitors with questions
  • Special Meeting Leader: decides on a topic for the class to discuss or debate, and moderates the discussion
  • Current-Events Reporter: chooses, with teacher and parent approval, a news story to follow and share with the class throughout the week
  • Class Journal Writer: records each week's most memorable classroom events or activities

Jobs That Benefit the Greater School Community

  • Guest Reader: reads to a partner in kindergarten or first-grade classroom
  • Recycling Expert: teaches younger students about classroom recycling
  • Custodians and Decorators: maintains school common spaces (like the lobby or cafeteria), or decorates common spaces in preparation for holidays or special events
  • Secret Admirer: writes an unsigned note of thanks and appreciation to a school worker (custodian, office worker, cafeteria worker) whose contribution the school counts on


This article was adapted from Your Best Year Yet! A Guide to Purposeful Planning and Effective Classroom Organization by Shoshana Wolfe.