When I used to use Classcraft, I loved that I created a beginning routine to each class. For a variety of reasons (mostly because I didn’t want to kill its novelty) I had to find a way to copy that feeling into my other courses. I needed a way to begin class and build structures roles. Inspired by the work of Bryce Hedstrom, I investigated the power of classroom jobs.
I’ve done classroom jobs for two years now and I don’t see myself going back. With them, my class has a structured, quick beginning and predetermined classroom responsibilities. I tinker with the number of jobs and the different roles occasionally. Here is what I currently have:
Paper-passer-outer: this person is the busiest most weeks. This person passes out all materials and passes back any completed work I have. It’s nice to have a person I just hand things to so that I can focus on talking and engaging the students in our lesson objectives versus doing clerical work.
Attendance: this is not the official class attendance, as I still do that through our online system but I keep a binder in the back of the room with rosters. The attendance taker marks anyone who is absent and reports that info to me. It’s helpful and it keeps the students accountable for each other. We’re a small school, so many times kids know who is absent already because the student was missing in an earlier class. It’s faster to have them just tell me.
Pledge Leader: we begin each class with the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. It’s routine and short and requires standing and speaking. I will never argue with those objectives. The pledge leader is instructed to say get the student’s attention and starting the pledge as soon as the bell rings. This gives me a quick minute to gather myself from greeting the students in the hallway to diving into our objective of the day.
Trash Person: often an underutilized person but I keep the job “just in case”. This person reorganizes desks and chairs and keeps the floor clear of debris.
Social Media Rep: sometimes I hand my phone or other device over to student (trust!) and give them access to our class social media accounts (double trust!). I really never worry; since I know who has it at what time, I know who I would punish if necessary. Some kids wish to document nothing. Some are clever and better at using social media to promote what we are doing better than me. I’d like to do even more with Instagram or Snapchat in the future. I have some ideas so stay tuned. (Check out my post on using social media in the classroom)
Timekeeper: paving my lessons is something I am working on. I’m often too fast and jam too much into a day. The timekeeper is a way to monitor myself. I review the agenda at the beginning of class and tell the timekeeper to “let me know when we have x minutes left” or “if we’re not doing this by ____o clock, stop me”. I noticed that even though I’ve always written our agenda on the board, the emergence of the timekeeper really makes the students aware of our daily activities. They usually check to see what we will be doing now. Also the timekeeper just helps remind me what time class ends. We have shortened classes on Wednesday and you think by know I would know what those times are, but you’d be wrong.
Cantaninja: I like the power of the Cantaninja. I like assigning it to a specific person too. Read more about the power of Cantaninja here.
Judge: this person is second in command. They make choices, lead others, run activities, etc. They are the “final answer” if the group has to decide anything. I like that this person isn’t always my best student; in fact it’s usually better when they are a student that typically doesn’t engage. The role requires engagement, so if you are assigned to that role, you have no choice but to be a part of the action.
I randomly rotate the jobs every two weeks. One week seemed too short and caused more chaos and confusion. Two weeks in a role feels good. At the end of two weeks, students get “paid”. I use a punch card reward system where students need to earn 10 punches to redeem a reward.
Some students are overly ambitious about their jobs and some are less so. The overall balance is good though. Sometimes the Cantaninja refuses to use their power (or the judge vetoes the use of their power) because they hate Cantaninja. The class deals with it. Sometimes the Cantaninja only plays “Soy Yo” for two straight weeks. The class deals with it.
Overall the jobs create an engaging environment that is different than most other high school classrooms. It helps build a community because different roles must, at a minimum, acknowledge others. It lessens my workload during class a bit and also keeps me efficient.