During the first week of school, I used to have to do a lot of cleaning after dismissal each day. This is because I hadn’t set up a clear job system right away and train my students. Then, I got smart and made it a priority. Setting up a class jobs system gives students a sense of competence, community and cleanliness all at once.
Let me share with you a brilliant class job system that keeps the room spic-and-span. (Many of the ideas came from my students—the best solutions always do.)
Before this brilliant system, I had what most teachers have: a rotation system for jobs. The problem with this is that kids forget what their job is, and you constantly have to train students in a new job. Plus, kids slack because they know you can’t keep up with who is supposed to do what.
My students and I developed a job system based on efficiency, not fun. (It turned out to be fun anyway.) We created an Excel spreadsheet listing all the jobs we thought we needed. Then we began to assign jobs. By the end of the year, everyone had at least three jobs. Some kids had more.
You can download and view this sample Excel spreadsheet. You can sort it by job to assign one job to several students. You can sort it by student to see how many jobs each student has. You might not recognize some of the jobs—delete them! Feel free to add your own. Please post your best ideas for jobs so we can all learn.
Each job earns income: five table points for doing it in the morning, and five table points for the afternoon. (Jobs that don’t fit this schedule are assigned table points that seem fair.)
First thing in the morning and at the end of the day, the class becomes a beehive of activity as students complete their assigned jobs and mark their table points. Our classroom always looks great!
I know it’s not feasible to assign all 90 jobs during the first week. I usually identify my 30 most important jobs and assign those. When the kids ask if they can switch jobs later in the year, I’ll tell them no. I’ll cheer them up by saying that we can start assigning more jobs as people show how well they can do their assigned jobs.
Some kids are particularly good workers and may have more jobs than others. I also let kids invent jobs and then do them. The deal is that if you invent the job, you get first dibs on doing it. (Aren’t elementary kids great? They want to help in the classroom.) The kids think of very clever ways to keep the classroom looking nice, and that makes it a better place to learn!