If you find creating and maintaining classroom jobs overwhelming, you're not alone. The good news is, with the right framing, classroom jobs can not only make your to-do list shorter, but they can increase student investment and boost real-world learning opportunities.
The goal of student jobs is to teach responsibility and increase ownership over classroom routines. Classroom jobs should mirror the responsibilities you or I have in the real world. What makes you want to do your job? What makes you not want to do your job? These are great questions to ask yourself when you are creating student jobs.
The first component of investing students in their job is planning a job that is actually helpful. How do you feel when you have to complete a meaningless task? Your students feel the same way. If you make up a job that doesn't really matter, they are going to pick up on that and quickly lose interest.
In order to create meaningful jobs, start by creating a list of things that you do every day that you can "outsource" to your students. Tasks such as writing the date on the whiteboard, straightening the desks, or taking attendance (don't ask my office manager how many times I forgot to do that one before I made it a job). The goal of this list is to put your classroom on autopilot. If you're out one day? No problem. That attendance will still get submitted because your students are on it.
Now that you have that list of tasks, it's time to make your life even easier. You are going to help your students hold themselves and each other accountable by creating job teams. Creating a team will allow students to work together to complete the task at hand. This also shifts the responsibility from you onto your students. Instead of you having to make sure that the attendance got sent, the team can follow up with the person that was responsible.
Step 1: Group your list of tasks into similar categories
Step 2: Create a team name that encompasses the tasks
Step 3: Create responsibilities and qualifications for those jobs
Step 4: Schedule time for teams to meet and make a game plan
When we did this with our suggested ClassEquity jobs, we came up with the following three jobs: Clean-Up Crew, Teacher Team, and Tech Team (shown below). Notice that each job has clear, actionable responsibilities. These self-explanatory descriptions save you from having to "train" your students and allow your students to jump right into their jobs. With their team, of course-let's learn more about empowering the team!
So you're telling me that all students will only have one of three jobs? Yes. Heck, every student in your class could be part of the Clean-up Crew if that's what makes the most sense in your class. The important part is that students feel like they are doing something meaningful and contributing to the team.
This is where making time for team meetings comes into play. Team meetings allow students to delegate tasks and start to form accountability to each other. During the team meeting, teams should think about how they want to divide up the duties. This could mean dividing up the responsibilities between each team member, or each member could have a day of the week to take the lead on everything. They should also create an accountability plan that empowers them to respectfully remind each other of what they need to get done.
This is also a great time to model what it looks like to work on a team as a professional. What teams are you on? What are your individual and group responsibilities? How are you held accountable? How do you hold others accountable? Seeing how teamwork plays out in the real world will not only help them build their own team plan right now but also demonstrate how these skills will be important to them in the future.