As teachers, it seems we always have too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it. Luckily for us, we have an entire classroom of little helpers who are all eager beavers when it comes to helping their teacher. Assigning students classroom jobs teaches them responsibility, gives them pride in a job well done, and helps to build the classroom community. An added bonus is that you’re not thoroughly exhausted at the end of the day from all of the extra housekeeping chores you performed in your classroom.
I chose not to begin my school year with classroom helpers as school was already a new experience: having to train individuals for a specific task was asking too much. Instead, students trained as a group, learning and working together with their tablemates. Each job was modeled multiple times so everyone learned the correct way to stack chairs at the end of the day, or how to sweep up scraps from the floor and place them into the garbage cans. Little by little, I selected students to perform specific tasks, and now that we are in the new year, I feel my entire class is ready to take on more responsibility.
When students arrived back to school after winter break, they immediately noticed the new job chart on our calendar wall. We discussed all of the jobs and how they would be assigned. In my class, the jobs rotate daily. By rotating the students daily though the different jobs, everyone gets many opportunities. We currently have ten jobs that need to be performed daily. Below are the jobs we have in my classroom and the responsibilities that are attached to them.
Calendar Custodian: Leads the morning calendar routine, including checking the weather, and the letter, number, and word of the day; starts the Pledge of Allegiance and the school pledge.
Messenger: Takes notes, items, or sick/injured students to the office or other classrooms.
Ball Monitor: Carries the ball bucket to and from recess, making sure all of our classroom balls are returned and accounted for.
Lunch Basket Tender: Places the lunch basket outside the doorway and makes sure it is empty of any lunch boxes or food at the end of the day.
Librarian: Keeps the class library buckets neat and orderly and returns misplaced books to their correct bucket.
Paper Passer: Passes out papers to each table throughout the day.
Sweeper: Sweeps the floor at the end of the day, or during the day if we have been particularly messy.
Chair Stacker: Stacks chairs into groups of five at the end of each school day.
Door Monitor: Closes the doors when we leave the classroom or after all children have entered the classroom.
Lights Monitor: Turns the lights on and off as needed throughout the day.
Designing a system that works for your classroom takes time and patience. Here are my five suggestions to help you get started:
Make a list of all your routine tasks, thinking of those that could be performed by a student. Some teachers like to have only a few jobs while others want to have one job for each child in their classroom. In classrooms of more than 30 students, the latter can be quite an undertaking.
Determine the duration of each job. How often do you want the jobs to change? Are some jobs daily, weekly, monthly?
Decide how many people are needed for each job. Some jobs, such as table washers, might require two people, whereas monitoring the lights probably only needs one person.
Choose a method of job assignment. Whether students rotate through the jobs or you match tasks to students based on ability, make sure it is a fair system, giving every student an opportunity to shine. I have even seen upper grades use job application forms.
Create a job chart. There are many commercial products available, but I have found it easier to just create my own in a pocket chart. The most important thing is that it needs to be visible within the classroom for easy reference so students know who is responsible for what.
Below are two samples of class job charts from two colleagues' classrooms. Mrs. Shelton's colorful classroom job chart on the left has nine jobs. She lets her students choose which jobs they would like. The chart on the right is from Mrs. Cote's classroom. She uses laminated "hands" with her students' class number on them that she uses year after year. She also attached Velcro to the backs of the laminated hands for easy movement.
Art Cleanup Patrol: Helps distribute supplies and clean up after art projects.
Attendance Taker: Takes attendance and brings it to the necessary location.
Board Manager: Wipes off board at the end of the day, sets agenda strips.
Board Patrol: Erases any chalk or dry erase boards.
Botanist: Waters and cares for any class plants.
Breakfast Helper: Supervises cleanup (if kids eat in the classroom).
Caboose: Always gets to be last in line.
Calendar Helper: Assists with daily calendar routines.
Center Inspector/Monitor: Makes sure all supplies are neat and in order at all centers.
Chair Stacker: Stacks the chairs at the end of the day.
Chalkboard/Overhead Eraser: Erases at end of the day.
Computer Helper: Turns the machine off and on.
Cubby/Coat Closet Monitor: Reminds students to clean out cubby or take their coats.
Day Counter: Manages routines for counting the days in school.
Desk Detective: Inspects the class for messy desks.
Door Monitor: Opens and closes the door as class comes and goes.
Energy Expert: Turns off the light when your class leaves the room.
Filers: Files student work into folders.
Floor Monitor: Makes sure the floor is clean at set points during the day.
Gardener: Waters plants.
Homework Helpers: Distributes homework and school memos. Ã¢ÂÂ¨
Homework Monitor: Tells students who were absent what homework they missed.
Librarian: Manages the class library; keeps it organized.
Lights Monitor: Turns lights on and off.
Line Ender: Last person in line.
Line Leader: Leads the line and sets the example.
Lunch Count Helper: Takes the daily lunch count.
Math Materials Managers: Organizes, collects, and distributes math manipulatives.
Media: Turns the ELMO, TV, DVD, or VCR on and off.
Messenger: Delivers all notes/items to other classrooms and office.
Paper Collector: Collects papers/supplies at the end of assignments.
Paper Monitor: Passes papers to students.
Peacemaker: Settles disputes.
Pencil Sharpener: Makes sure the class always has a supply of sharpened pencils.
Photographer: Takes pictures of events in the classroom.
Plant Technician: Waters plants.
Pledge/Flag Helper: Leads the class in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Receptionist: Answers classroom phone and takes messages.
Recess Helper: Carries materials out to the playground.
Scrap Monster: Picks all small scraps of paper off floor.
Sink Monitor: Stands by sink when kids are lined up to wash hands.
Substitute: Does jobs for absent students.
Supply Passers: Passes out supplies.
Table Leader: Cleans desks and surrounding floor at the end of the day.
Teacher Assistant: Helps the teacher at any time.
Trash Monitor: Makes sure all trash is picked up.
Veterinarian: Takes care of animals.
Weather Wiz: Checks the weather; reports to the class.
Windows/Blinds Monitor: Opens and closes as needed.
Zookeeper: Cares for class pet.
Classroom jobs enable students to feel important, help students learn responsibilities, promote positive behavior, and ensure that all students are contributing to the classroom community. How do you implement classroom helpers in your classroom? I would love to hear your ideas, or perhaps you have other jobs to add to my list.