Alissa M. has been in education for 25 years and currently teaches 8th grade ELA at Dillard Drive Magnet Middle. As a global magnet school, their focus is on celebrating diversity and building global citizenship. She started her career in higher education but transitioned to middle school so that she could reach students earlier.
"I have always been passionate about literacy, and it made me sad to teach so many college freshmen who hated reading and writing."
This is Dillard Drive Magnet Middle’s first official year as a global magnet school. At DDMMS we celebrate diversity, and focus on building global citizenship. I’ve always believed that community and citizenship begin in the classroom, and a strong classroom culture is critical to student success. ClassEquity helps build that!
When I first set up ClassEquity, I brainstormed with my students about what types of jobs they wanted to see listed on the job board. I wanted the jobs to give students a sense of leadership, personal satisfaction, and community. One of the jobs is class meteorologist, and each day that student tells the class the local weather, and picks a student to suggest a country so we can get the forecast there as well. After the student gives us the forecast in that country, I pull up the time, and we look at a map, and other interesting information about that country. This is how we begin class each day.
Another job is class translator. That one is probably the most popular job. Translators research positive messages, quotes, or general information in other languages and write the message on the white board in the native language. We have a rotating “staff” of translators. This is a great way for students to spot similarities and differences in world languages.
There is also a “Positivity Patrol” position, and that student is responsible for spreading positive messages and encouraging words during class each day. One of our favorite quotes that a positivity patrol student shared is, “The elevator of life is broken. You will have to take the stairs, one step at a time.” Everyone loved that one, and it stayed on our board for a long time.
Students really enjoy our quick “vacations” to other countries to check on the weather, and they also get a real sense of pride when they look up phrases in other languages and write them down. They may not really understand the words, but just doing that small amount of research opens up the door to so many worlds and possibilities.
My biggest piece of advice would be to involve students as much as you can in the process. Involving the students in job creation, and store rewards, as well as getting their input on pay amounts for the jobs has all helped them feel more invested in the process. Try and customize ClassEquity to fit the students you have. For instance, some core periods have a couple of jobs that are only available to students in that particular class, because I know there’s a need for that job. Get an organized system in place for when students can check balances, when paydays are scheduled, etc.
I would love to visit Australia!