Classroom Jobs with Purpose

11:56 AM

First off, welcome back! Thank for joining my blog.

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Having been homeschooled for my entire K-12 career, I had NEVER seen this concept in action before teaching. At my house, it was called "Clean up after yourself if you want to live." However, since THAT isn't politically correct and people can't seem to take a joke these days *sigh*

We'll just call these "jobs."

In my first year of teaching, I didn't realize how many things I was doing that I should have been training my class to do for themselves.

I usually operate with "I'll do it better, so let me do it" thoughts.

While this thought process may be accurate, it isn't beneficial.

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

I remember talking to a co-teacher the following year, Shewanna and marvelling at how "put-together" her room seemed to ALWAYS be. If you were to walk into my room at any given time, you would be greeted with a confetti of pencils, missing glue stick lids, strewn papers, and broken crayons. 

Her secret?

Kids' ownership.

Her theme thought one year was "own it." I wish I had adopted the same one. It applied to SO much. 

Anyways, she determined that her classroom wasn't really hers. It was the students. *Mind-blown*

After digesting that thought over a few days, I built up the courage to drop my pride and ask her HOW she did this. Here is my paraphrase from it ...

This was merely looking at the big picture with these kids
  • What kind of room did they want to learn in? 
  • How did they learn best? 
  • How can we help the WHOLE class? 
  • What "jobs" would we have to implement to make this a comfortable living/learning space?
This was brainstorming ways to keep the room comfortable. Expectations were discussed, number of people per job, how jobs would rotate, ways to support absent students, and ways to keep the teacher happy. I mean, we all know that the teacher sets the tone for the room.
  • Create USEFUL jobs for that particular room - Not all classrooms want "line leaders" or "cabooses." Why have jobs that are unnecessary? 
  • Create incentives - What do the kids want? In the real-world, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." If people work, there is some kind of payment.
  • Make a plan - 
    • How will these jobs work? 
    • When will they happen? 
    • What happens IF the job isn't completed to expectation? 
    • How do students get a job? 
    • How can students change jobs?
  • Create VISUAL and written instructions for each occupation.
    • Where are supplies for cleaning?
    • How is the area arranged?
    • What to look for to correct?
Some days it is hard to take the time to make things comfortable in the classroom. Some days we get over-loaded with the "oh-by-the-ways" of teaching. Some days we have sick days. Make sure you have a plan laid out. Kids NEED structure. If you are "off," they will feel it. Make this simple for you so that it doesn't add to your chaos. 

These are only suggestions based on my experience. I know some people who have 5 jobs that rotate, while other teachers have the same kids do the same job ALL YEAR! Whatever works for you, do it. Just remember, by allowing kids to take ownership of their room they learn more about real-world situations, accountability, community, and discipline. 

As always, if I forgot something, PLEASE drop it in the comments below.

Love you all!

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