Do you use jobs in your classroom? They can be a really great way to build classroom community! Classroom jobs instill a sense of responsibility and belonging in students. They understand that everyone has an important role to play.
However, classroom jobs can also be a pain point for many teachers. It’s just one more thing to have to keep up with! I know personally, as I was on that struggle bus for several years before I came up with a solution that worked for me and my students. I’m sharing with you how I used jobs in my classroom last year and why it worked, along with some classroom job ideas for your students!
Ditch Classroom Jobs for Careers
My biggest struggle with using jobs with my students was remembering to change them out. I started out doing them daily my first year teaching and giving every student a job every single day. That didn’t work out so well.
My next year I toned it way down with only 4 jobs, and switching them out weekly. That worked well for awhile, but eventually I started forgetting to change those out, too.
The next two years I taught I ditched jobs altogether. I didn’t have to remember to change them out…but I also ended up doing most things myself unless a student asked to help. Suddenly, I couldn’t remember to use my students!
But two summers ago, everything changed. I had already been thinking of ways I could change the format of my classroom jobs, and then I came across the idea of using classroom careers instead.
Basically, a career differs from a job in that they never change. Just like in real life, a career is long-term. Students can apply for the job they want, get hired, be trained, and then that’s it. That’s their job, all year long.
It takes a little more time and effort on the front end, but is smooth sailing from there.
How to Use Classroom Careers
Obviously, I jumped all over this idea. Never having to change jobs out? Training students to just do their job on their own without me having to tell them what to do? Yes please!
Like I said, it’s a little more work up front, but so much easier the rest of the year. Here’s my process for using classroom careers:
- Brainstorm your list of classroom job ideas and responsibilities. Think through the jobs your classroom would benefit from and give them a title. Write down the responsibilities each job will attend to.
- Teach your students about each job. Go through each job in extensive detail with your students. Make sure to cover all the responsibilities and how often this job would be done (daily, weekly, etc.).
- Have your students fill out a job application. I had my students pick out their top 3 (because obviously everyone can’t get their #1 pick) and also tell me why they think they’d be good at that job. I told my students that I would take that into consideration, but ultimately I’d be hiring them for the jobs I think they’d be best at, so it isn’t a sure thing.
- Observe your students over the next several weeks to determine job assignments. Don’t feel like you have to hire students immediately! Tell them you are watching them closely to see what their strengths are, and it may be awhile before everyone has been hired. Encourage them to take initiative if there’s a certain job they are hoping for and go ahead and start doing it. You don’t have to hire all your students at once — go ahead and get them started once you’re sure you have a job for them!
- Train them! This is the most important part. As you hire students, get started on training them. This goes deeper than just telling them what to do. Model for them, have them shadow you, and give lots of verbal feedback. You may have to remind them when to do their job for awhile, but if you stay consistent eventually they will get into the habit and remember on their own.
- Relax as all the work gets done with no effort on your part. Once all your students are hired and trained, you can focus on more important things like lesson planning and grading. You may have to retrain a student here and there, but overall, it should be fairly easy for you!
Why It Works
This system for classroom jobs works really well for several reasons. First, everyone plays an important role in the class. Every student feels they belong, and also knows that every other student belongs too.
Second, it teaches responsibility in an easy-to-understand way. Students know that when they are older they will get jobs, so they may see this as practice for that. They learn how to take care of their responsibilities and work together.
Third, there are so many opportunities for real-world application and community building. You can talk as a class about how each person has a different role, and if one of those jobs didn’t get done, things wouldn’t work as well. It also opens opportunities for discussing how real jobs work. You can even come up with an economy system where students get paid for doing their job. The opportunities are endless!
Classroom Job Ideas
Some classroom job ideas for your students are:
- Lumberjack – sharpens pencils
- Mailman – helps sort papers into student mailboxes
- Trash collector – in charge of checking for trash in the room
- Janitor – responsible for double checking the classroom after clean up time, and helping students who spill/drop something
- Supply manager – passes out supplies
- Secretary – passes out important handouts
- Nurse – walks students to the nurse’s office or brings them a bandaid
- Electrician – turns off lights when leaving the classroom
- Librarian – responsible for making sure the library stays neat and organized
- Technician – responsible for helping students with technology (student computers, tablets, etc.)
- Door person – holds the door open for the class
- Mathematician, Scientist, etc. – in charge of helping students with certain subjects (after finishing their own work, of course!)
Think through specific classroom job ideas that would be helpful to have in your classroom. Also think through which jobs more than one student could potentially have – that way, you don’t have to have the same number of jobs as you have students.
Building Community with Classroom Jobs
When everyone plays an important role in the classroom and has a sense of belonging, it impacts classroom community in a positive way. Problems with classroom community often stem from a sense of insecurity in individual students, so it is important that each student feels loved and important.
If possible, display a bulletin board in your classroom showing each job with the hired student’s name. This will not only remind the other students in the class of each one’s job, it will remind the students themselves that they are important and valuable in the classroom.
To view my Classroom Careers Set, including bulletin board printables, click the image below.