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Why I Will Be Assigning Jobs to My Classroom This Fall

by Ellen Benefield

FM-iFLT21 inspired me. Of the many new tips and tools I will be implementing in my classroom this fall, I am most excited about classroom jobs. In our Advanced Beginner Cohort group, one of the presenters encouraged the use of classroom jobs/roles in order to increase engagement and take the pressure off of the teacher. 

Other collaborators quickly jumped in and shared the positive experiences of their own: 

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“I have the students apply for each position.I hold interviews. Students can be fired if their work quality drops below a certain level. One teacher even prints out a paycheck with classroom money. At the end of each semester, students can turn in their money for rewards.” 

“I love to use a classroom manager. That person keeps track of all the other employees and their jobs. It makes life so easy for me!”

“I have a deskless classroom, so an added benefit for the classroom manager as well as the official story-notes taker is that they get to use a table.”

ADI can feel overwhelming because the teacher provides so much of the input students received. My colleagues shared how employing students with a specific job empowered them to stay engaged, contribute to their class, AND it took pressure off of the teacher. Using classroom jobs naturally lends itself to differentiating between abilities levels. An advanced student or heritage speaker might take on a demanding role while a struggling student finds success flourishing at their level. (Every class could use a student birthday reminder person, right?)

The cohort chat lit up as teachers shared resource after resource, including lists of potential classroom jobs:

  • Classroom Manager -person in charge of all the other roles and responsibilities
  • Administrative Assistant – tracks attendance
  • Document Distributor/Collector 
  • Supplies Distributor/Collector
  • Door/Lights
  • Timer
  • iPad/Computer Technicians
  • Cleaning Police – makes sure everyone else picks up after themselves
  • Chairs Police – makes sure chairs return to the correct position
  • Applause/Animator
  • Projector & Screen
  • Messenger
  • Sneeze Person – must say bless you
  • Birthday Reminder
  • PQA Structure Counters (Yes, No, or, ?) – lets the teacher know when they end circling too soon
  • Right Answer Deciders -helps the class answer circling questions
  • Reading Leader
  • Vanna White – points at the word wall during a story
  • Story Writer – copies down the story as the class creates it
  • Whiteboard Operator (writing & erasing)
  • Quiz Writer – comes up with easy questions about the story during class
  • Actors
  • Sound Effects
  • Dictionary Operator
  • Sub Helper
  • Kindness Recorder
  • Story Artist
  • Gestures Leader

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The lists go on and on! I love that this idea is so versatile. It can be adapted to any classroom or any teaching style. I’ve already added Granola Bars Sales Representative to my personal list. It can be geared toward specific students. Maybe one student in my class this year happens to be nationally ranked in timed Rubik’s Cube competitions. Instead of having a timer during certain transitions, I might give students as long as it takes Jake to solve his cube. Some teachers switch up jobs every week or two, while others allow students to perform their responsibilities for the entire school year. All the diverse variations add up to setting up our students for success and making each one an integral part of the classroom community. At the end of the day, the message we send is clear – without each specific student, the classroom doesn’t function at its best.

Shout out to Cohort Coaches & Facilitators Maribel Gomez and Skip Crosby for sharing their wisdom and resources. Kudos to all of the Advanced Beginning Cohort facilitators: Leslie Davison, Skip Crosby, Darcy Pippins, Nelly Hughes, Estelle Stokes Bowden, and Maribel Gomez. 

  About the Author   

Ellen Benefield teaches Spanish at Dunlap High School in Dunlap, Illinois. She has a master’s degree from the University of Salamanca. Before teaching, she worked as a community organizer in Mazatlán, México.
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