This is another meaty subject. Yesterday, I wrote about student routines as a strategy for classroom management and the power that those routines can have. This could seem a strange juxtaposition to now talk about handing “power” over to students, when trying so hard to get a “grasp” on the class and classroom management. Let’s get one thing straight- the “power” that we’re talking about is not a controlling power that we as teachers hold over our students to make them do what we want! Nobody wants robot-studetns!
There are so many ways that teachers can empower students to become healthy, productive members of our community. In this post, however, I’m going to just focus on one- student jobs.
My mother used to say “you can’t teach kids responsibility without giving them responsibility”.
This year, my student teacher and I have been assigning more and more “jobs” to students in our classroom, and we have been blown away at the results.
Some of these jobs address the nuts-n-bolts essentials that have to get done in the classroom everyday. We have one student assigned to be the “lights-turner-outer” (silly names make the jobs more fun and engaging), another who is the keeper of time, the closer of curtains, etc. etc. One student is the volume control guy. It has been amazing to see this student take control of the noise level in the classroom without my student teacher or I even having to ask!
Other jobs are just too much fun! We have “el rey de movimientos” or “the king of movements”. This comes from Ben Slavic’s list of jobs for students (see http://www.benslavic.com/jobs-for-kids.html) . This student gets to decide which movement he likes best to be associated with a particular vocabulary structure and leads the class in review of these terms each day, demonstrating the movement.
We also have the “bum, bum, bummmm” person. Ok, so whenever we have a story in class, this person listens for a problem. The story is entirely in Spanish, and so elements of the story get “lost in translation” so to speak. This person clues in the rest of the class when this pivotal point in the story is reached. Whenever he hears the words “hay un problema”, this student sings, “bum, bum bummmm!”. Sometimes it’s a BIG problem; in this cast the “bum, bum, bummmm!” is exaggerated. Sometimes, it’s just a little problem, and the “bum, bum, bumm!” is quieter and more reserved. We also have people who repeat the conjunctions “and/or/but (y/o/pero)” when they are said in a story. It’s hilarious when this happens and someone else is in the room watching, yet no one even reacts!
While observing another middle school teacher today, one student went around and initialed the students assignment books. The students had to show her that they had their assignment book filled in with that night’s homework assignment before she initialed. The class flowed so smoothly and these young children all stepped up to the jobs that they were given with pride.
It has been amazing to see the students take control of the classroom, accept the responsibility of their roles, and take responsibility for the slice of “power” that has been given to them. I have seen more leadership from more surprising sources by assigning students jobs than I thought was possible.
Above and beyond all of this, relinquishing these jobs to students allows you as the teacher to be more available to the class because , let’s not forget, your time is precious! You are there to teach the kids, not waste time in turning out the lights, handing out papers and rearranging desks!
I hope that you consider delegating jobs to your students, no matter what age they are at. Jobs may look very different in a high school language class than an elementary school class, but I truly believe that they have their place at all levels.
Soon, I’ll be talking about other ways to empower students in the classroom and in their own learning, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, how do you use student jobs? What are your favorite ones?