One thing I have learned after years of teaching is that elementary students LOVE to help! Having a classroom job or being the teacher’s helper gives them a sense of ownership and makes a kid feel so important. Plus it's a great way to teach students responsibility and build classroom community - which is something we all want!
Coming up with classroom helper job ideas can be endless. When creating your classroom job system, think of all the routine tasks that take up time that could be better spent on lesson planning or teaching. How many of those daily tasks could actually be done by a responsible student? There are a lot of little things throughout the day that students can handle themselves if you just show them how. Even kindergartners can be excellent student helpers!
What are some good IDEAS FOR classroom HELPER JOBS?
So what kind of classroom jobs should you have in your room? For an elementary teacher, there are so many things to do that you can easily have enough jobs for the entire class.
Here is a list of 50 different classroom job ideas that can easily be assigned to students:
hand sanitizer squirter
morning meeting leader
Pledge of Allegiance leader
pencil patrol (collects pencils off the floor)
homework monitor (checks off who turned it in)
recycling bin manager
classroom library manager
recess helper (playground equipment)
zoo keeper (cares for class pet)
gardener (tends to classroom plants)
white board cleaners
supplies or materials manager
welcome committee (when a new student arrives)
substitute helper (fills in for absent workers)
absentee liaison (makes sure absent students get their missing work)
How do you assign classroom jobs?
Now that you have a great list of different jobs to work with, how are you going to assign them to your students? This can be as simple or involved as you like. It can be random or very purposeful.
Here are some ideas:
Random Job Assignments
If you really don't want to put a lot of time and thought into assigning jobs, this is your best option. You just need a list of your classroom jobs and a way to pick your workers. Some teachers use popsicle sticks marked with student names. Then, just draw a stick out and that's who gets the job. Another option is to write each job title on a slip of paper and drop them all into a box or jar. You can call each student up to pull out a paper to get their assignment.
Either of these methods is an incredibly easy system, but you also run the chance of some kids getting the same job over and over again. This isn't usually a problem with older students, but young children can get very upset when it happens.
Teacher Assigned Class Jobs
If you want to have a little more control over which students get which jobs, you'll need to assign them yourself. Sometimes that's so each child gets a turn at every job throughout the year. Or maybe you want certain types of jobs to go to certain responsible kids. There's nothing wrong with that. You know your class best.
True story here - I once had a student who ate hand sanitizer whenever the opportunity arose. This is not a child I would ever give the job of "sanitizer squirter" and one reason I like to keep control over my job assignments.
Assigning jobs yourself takes a little more work. You'll need a master classroom job list to keep track of who has already done what. For me, the easiest system is to use a pocket chart with job cards. I start the school year off by randomly assigning each student to a job. I do this by placing their names (or popsicle sticks) in the pockets on the chart in no particular order. Then the next week, I just move everyone over to the next spot on the chart. That way they all get a new job each week until we've rotated through them all and have to start over.
If you want to reserve "special jobs" for certain students, you can do that too. Maybe being the line leader is a coveted position. You can use it as an incentive for good behavior by reserving that job for whoever earns it. I actually have "pick a job" as one of my classroom reward coupons that I use for behavior management.
"Hire" Your Classroom Helpers
If you teach older students in an upper elementary classroom, you might want to try hiring them as your workers. This is an excellent way to indirectly teach life skills and you can combine it with a classroom economy system, if you use one. Here's how it works:
First, create a job board. This is a spot where your list of classroom jobs will be displayed. A bulletin board that is low enough for students to easily see and read is ideal. Put a cute title on the board like "NOW HIRING" or "APPLY NOW".
Next, write job descriptions to post on the board. Make sure each classroom job includes the job title, a description of the duties in involved, and characteristics of the ideal candidate. If you have a classroom economy system in place, you can also list how much the job pays per week. An accurate description is important to make sure students understand what is involved and what they are committing to.
Third, create a job application for students to fill out. It should have space for the student's name, why they are interested in the job, and what their qualifications or characteristics are that make them a good fit.
This is a job application I created to use for hiring classroom workers.
It's simple and includes all of the information you need to choose students to fill your job positions.
Download a copy to use with your own students.
When using a system like this for assigning classroom jobs, there are a couple of things to consider:
How long students will hold each job
What you will do if no one applies for a job
Because collecting applications and deciding who you will hire takes some time, this system works best if you keep students in the same position for at least two weeks. Less than this and you'll end up spending more time on the hiring process than just doing some of the jobs yourself.
I prefer to keep students doing the same job for a full month. That gives them a good amount of time to really learn the tasks assigned to them - well enough to teach the next student who takes the job! When done correctly, this system begins to run itself. When it's time to switch jobs around, the outgoing workers will be able to train the new ones in what to do.
Some jobs in the classroom just aren't that appealing. For example, not a whole lot of kids enjoy chair stacking. But it's an important job because it saves the teacher from having to do it at the end of the day. So for unpopular jobs, I suggest either paying a lot more (if using an economy or token system) or offering some type of incentive for those who apply.
Also, make sure your students understand that all jobs must be filled no matter what. Once all the good ones are taken, you will have to assign the rest randomly if no one applies.
Classroom Job Charts
No matter what system you use to choose your helpers, you will need a way to display who has what job. This is helpful on a daily basis but also for when there's a substitute in the room. It's important to be able to quickly look and see who should be handling certain tasks in the room. Here are the 3 easiest ways to display your student jobs:
This is the simplest way to make a job chart. Just write or print a list of all the classroom jobs and place the assigned student's name next to each one. Or get a little bit fancier and use pictures of your students instead of name. If you have a "help wanted" board as described above, it's easy to display the current worker's name or face right there next to the job description. To make it easy to switch out your helpers each week or month, I suggest using velcro dots next to each job title. Another idea is to list the jobs on your whiteboard and hang the student names/faces with small magnets.
Jobs Clip Chart
I'm sure you've seen the very popular clip charts teachers use for behavior management. Well they work great as classroom helper charts too! All you need is a set of clothes pins with a student's name written on each one. Clip a name next to each job title. When it's time to switch, just move all of the clips down one spot to the next job. This works really well for assigning jobs randomly.
Classroom Jobs Pocket Chart
Pocket charts can be used for so many things and work especially well as a job chart, as I mentioned earlier. You can either place one job card in each pocket and then switch out the student names each week or give each student his or her own pocket and rotate the job cards through. If you have a lot of classroom jobs, a pocket chart can usually accommodate all of them without taking up a ton of space.
Here is an example of how a pocket chart can be used to display jobs in a primary classroom:
I hope this blog post has given you some good ideas for planning student jobs in your own classroom. When students have the opportunity to help their teacher and be part of a team, they learn valuable skills and contribute to a positive learning environment.
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