While it may be tempting to give jobs for students in the classroom to everyone in the class, I have found it is much more manageable to have a few key team jobs. Long before I started using teams in the classroom I still preferred to have no more than half of my class with a given job title. For me, this reduced the amount of time figuring out a job name for everything students could do and saved my sanity with constant assigning and tracking of jobs.
Do you have too many jobs for students in the classroom?
If so, it may mean you are spending way too much time maintaining your job chart or making sure to fairly assign jobs. As the demands of teaching become greater I just don’t have time to mess around with a long list of class jobs. Maybe you are feeling the same way.
One of my favorite classroom management strategies I use every year is having a table captain. Depending on the size of my class I have no more than 6 students at a table. One of these students is assigned to be the Table Captain for the whole week or the day according to the needs of my class. They are given a special badge to wear for the day which helps cut down on arguing over who is “in charge.”
The table captain is responsible for things at their table (or in my case, group of desks). They are the only ones allowed to touch and pass out the papers - learn more about this in my free organization email challenge. They are also responsible for keeping the group’s supplies organized, taking supply inventory for their group at the end of the day, collecting and returning their group’s books or toolkits when needed. Alongside the table captains I have also assigned one person to be the Teacher’s Helper. This person would do all the other jobs I needed that weren’t completed by the Table Captain. Usually the Teacher Helper would only hold the job for a day and if they needed assistance they were allowed to quickly pick a friend.
Then I transitioned to team jobs two years ago and it was a game changer.
Classroom Jobs for Students Made Easier
Having table captains and a teacher’s helper sounds like a pretty simple list of classroom jobs right? And it definitely is and it can be all you will need to help have a smooth running classroom (besides a killer classroom management system).
I was needing a change and saw a few ideas starting to crop up on Pinterest about having classroom team jobs. While I’m not sure team jobs make the classroom jobs for students any easier, it was just as easy for me to manage and satisfied the class wanting to have more jobs. It was a win-win.
Using Team Jobs for Students
For the transition into the idea of using team jobs in the classroom, I brainstormed a list of all the activities that students could help me with. Some of the ones I came up with were paper passing, trash collecting, pencil sharpening, turning on and off lights, carrying the lunch basket, and the list goes on. I’m sure you can come up with a few...or thirty of your own that I did not list here.
Once I had my list I decided to categorize the jobs. I can be somewhat of a nerd with some of these type of things and it made my nerd heart happy to make a list and sort it out. After reviewing the categories I came up with the Big 4: paper, supplies, moving, and support. These became the name of my Job Crews, similar to a construction crew. Each crew would be responsible for the type of jobs that fell under their category. As a reminder, I listed off the major ones on the printable classroom job chart which you can see here:
Having this printable classroom job chart really helps students remember their responsibilities. It was also really helpful for me in the beginning when training the students how to use the job chart and how to complete the jobs correctly. Don’t underestimate the power of explicitly teaching EXACTLY what you expect when it comes to class jobs.
How to Train Students for Classroom Jobs
Even classroom jobs for 2nd graders should go through a training process before expecting the Job Crews to run smoothly with little teacher interference. When I first started using team classroom jobs for 2nd graders over two years ago I was amazed at how often students would need reminding of what their job was or that the job needing to get done fell under their category.
Because of this, having a printable job chart that students can reference is very important. My students would check it first thing every morning and often throughout the day.
For an additional reminder, I made each student that was a part of the crew a badge. Having each member of the crew wear the same badge really helped drive the point home that they were part of a team. Completion of many of the jobs frequently needed the help of other team members - especially for students that might not be paying attention when they were needed. Students would wear the badges proudly and were often asked about them by friends in other classes if they had them on outside of the classroom.
Decide How to Rotate Jobs
When assigning jobs for students in the classroom, you will need to decide on how often students will hold the job and how many jobs you will need. If you use my Job Crew printable classroom job chart, the hard part here is already done for you. Feel free to click here to learn more or to purchase this system.
Because I like things to be super simple, I have the same students hold their job for the week. New jobs are assigned Friday afternoon before dismissal (giving students a sneak peak at assignments for the following week) and allowing me to be prepared for Monday. If the week is short due to holidays or days off, I still follow the same system. Some kids may grumble over only having their job for a few days but since the list manages to get almost half of the class at once they don’t need to wait long before having a job again.
Choose a System for Assigning and Tracking Classroom Jobs
Once you’ve decided how to rotate jobs and how often, you’ll want to decide how to track (or not) who has been assigned a job.
I don’t typically track which child does which job. You could if you want but I don’t think it’s necessary for my own classroom. If a child complains they had that job last time, I simply switch around a few names. Easy-peasy.
I usually write all my student names on a clothespin and place two bags (already chosen and not yet) stapled to the wall near the job board. This coming year though I’m excited to try something new. While the clothespin idea has been around forever and it works well I thought I’d streamline my process just a little bit.
Rather than using clothespins (which sometimes get lost or broken), I am going to write student names directly on the chart using a wet erase marker. Using a wet erase marker instead of a dry erase will help make sure no accidental wipings of student names occurs. I also modified my job chart posters so that I can clip the badges directly on the chart. Keeping a class list in a page protector will easily allow me to check off the jobs each week and know when all students have had a turn.
I previously had students unclip their badges and leave them on a table when they went home but that got messy and badges wound up on the floor a lot. I tried a container as well but that meant a lot of digging through and time wasted in the mornings to find their right badge for the day. Leaving badges on top of the desk meant the desks weren’t being properly cleaned overnight.
The solution came to me that the badges should clip directly onto the poster. In order to do this I decided to transition away from the plastic badge holders (which would add a lot of weight to each poster) and simply print on cardstock and use a 5 mil laminating sheet. The result is a nice thick, waterproof badge that should stand up for a few years easy.
Take Time to Explicitly Teach the Classroom Job Expectations
While having a pretty printable classroom job chart and matching badges can make you very happy and organized, it doesn’t mean the jobs will work the way you intended. In order for the classroom to run smoothly, you must explicitly teach your expectations.
Take a few moments to have students model how to correctly do that particular job crew while the other students watch and take mental notes. After watching their classmates, create a class chart of things they noticed. By the end of the week you should have an anchor chart detailing how to complete jobs for each of the crews.
These charts should be reviewed daily in the following weeks of implementing the Job Crews. All it takes is a simple read through of a particular part of an anchor chart when that job becomes necessary. For example, when it is time to carry the lunch baskets to the cafeteria you might pull up the Moving Crew anchor chart and read the directions about the lunch baskets. Then dismiss the members of the Moving Crew in charge of this.
RELATED POST: Organizing with Classroom Jobs: Shared Teaching Podcast Episode 26
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