Encouraging students to be responsible learners can oftentimes be a challenging task. It’s wonderful when our students come to us with experience in responsibility (like doing chores at home!), but oftentimes that just isn’t our reality. So it’s our job, as teachers, to TEACH our students HOW to be responsible. Teach them what it means. What it looks like and what it doesn’t look like. Model responsibility. Encourage it. Most of all…provide them with opportunities to be responsible!!!
One of the most effective ways to instill within our students a sense of responsibility is by trusting them with a specific job. A task for which they will be held accountable. The only real way to teach kids to become responsible is to give them responsibilities. Classroom jobs give students the meaningful practice they need to become responsible and they work beautifully in acheiving this when used effectively!
Of course, before expecting students to be succesful with their job responsibilites, we need to ensure that they understand HOW to perform the job and WHY the job exists. As adults, we appreciate knowing the value behind what we’re doing. If we’re asked to do something that’s been given to us as a “filler”, we’re less likely to buy in and give it our all. Same goes for kids. If they don’t understand the value behind the job they’re given and how executing their responsibilites contribute to the classroom community, they’re less likely to meet our expectations.
Before allowing students to hold the responsibility of a classroom job, always explain the purpse of the job and how the job contributes to the learning environment. How does it help our classroom? How does it affect our community? What are the responsibilites?
Display a power point describing each job and the expectations that come with each role. This provides a visual anchor for our kids to refer back to. Discuss the responsibilites that are described and prompt students to make connections between classroom jobs and personal chores. And don’t just talk about it! Be sure to model it as well. I always like to engage students in the modeling process…almost like a game of Charades 😉 The right way to perform the task and the wrong way.
I taught with a VERY wise teacher once who always said, “Don’t assume they know ANYTHING. Explain EVERYTHING! Even the most basic of ideas.” She was speaking of her own personal children, LOL, but I definitely think this sentiment holds true for our students as well. Her words have stayed with me for years. Keeping them in mind, I always make sure to explain every minute detail of everything I expect my students to do (this goes for my personal kids as well 😉
Give yourself a week or so to introduce the jobs and responsibilities of each. Allow enough time to model & set expectations. If you don’t want to start with one job for each student, start small. Cut the jobs in half and double up on the number of kids performing each task to build a sense of familiarity with each job while instilling a sense of responsibility as well. Add in more jobs when you feel like they’re ready. OR start with a job for everyone! You know your class best.
Give each of your students the opportunity to hold a job. Every child needs to know they’re an important member of the classroom. Each child needs to understand that he/she contributes to the community. Yes, even your most difficult & challenging babies. Entrusting them with responsibilities that contribute to the class gives them a sense of value and makes them feel important. Research has proven that challenging students who are given opportunities to be responsible and take on leadership roles will develop a positive self-concept and contribute to their learning environment in more helpful ways.
Don’t be afraid to remove a student from a job role if necesary. I’m all about natural consequences and think it’s important to hold students accountable. If they aren’t performing their job responsibly and appropriately, they’re relived of their duties. That’s a natural consequence of those expectations. If this does happen, be sure to explain WHY they’ve been removed from those responsibilities and follow-up by giving them an opportunity to try again the following day.
And just like adults, kids like to be praised for a job well done! Don’t forget to thank them for contributing to their environment!
Classroom jobs are an effective tool for building responsibility and community. How do you run your jobs in your classroom?