Hopefully, at this point, your year is chugging along nicely. You and your students have settled into your routine and you’re off! It’s time to learn! So what happens when you’ve been so engrossed in your teaching that it’s suddenly five minutes before the end of the day, you have a million odds and ends to take care of, and nobody has their backpack yet? This is the time that you truly need to rely on your students to help you get it all done.

Now, most of you probably already have a few classroom jobs posted and in full swing. Bravo! My challenge to you is to create even more jobs. Yes, more jobs! Students love to help – sometimes to the point where them asking how they can help actually becomes less than helpful. At one point, I had a system where every single child in my class had some sort of responsibility each week.

Let me tell you a quick story. Imagine me after a fairly intense field trip. The kids are wound up yet also completely exhausted. I am wound up yet also completely exhausted. I look up and somehow it is time to go, and I am nowhere near ready to leave. Homework folders and school memos need to be passed out, tables need to be cleaned up, prizes need to be passed out, and nobody has their backpack. You get it, right? We are a mess, and it is officially crunch time.

I open my mouth to issue a flurry of directions when I pause and really notice what is going on. I see my two homework monitors proudly standing by the basket, but it’s empty. “Anything else to pass out?” my monitor asks me. “Um, no sweetheart, it looks like you already did it all,” I answer. I see spotless desks, table monitors at the back of the classroom wringing out used sponges, the pencil monitor is busy at the sharpener, and there isn’t a scrap of paper on the floor. They had done it all. On autopilot. I swear to you, I almost cried.

If you already have a list of classroom jobs, add some more! If you don’t have classroom jobs, get them started! Think of all the things you could let the children do, and let them take that ownership. I believe that not only does it help you out in a serious pinch, but it gives your students a sense of accomplishment and belonging that can’t be measured with a test.

Here are some job ideas for you to consider – some are obvious, some are fabulous:

  • Energy Expert – turns off the light when your class leaves the room
  • Line Leader – leads the line and sets the example
  • Librarian – organizes classroom library
  • Pencil Patrol – a.k.a. pencil sharpener
  • Paper Patrol – paper passers
  • Homework Helpers – distribute homework and school memos
  • Door Monitor – closes classroom door and/or holds other doors for class
  • Table Leader – cleans desks and surrounding floor at the end of the day
  • Teaching Assistant – helps the teacher do all sorts of miscellaneous tasks
  • Attendance Monitor – takes attendance and brings it to the necessary location
  • Botanist – waters and cares for any class plants
  • Desk Detective – on Fridays, inspects the class for messy desks
  • Board Patrol – erases any chalk or dry erase boards
  • Math Materials Manager – organizes, collects, and distributes math manipulatives
  • Art Clean Up Patrol – helps distribute supplies and clean up after art projects
  • Weather Wiz – checks the weather online, reports to the class, graphs the temperature
  • Animal Lover – cares for class pet (if you are so brave)