You need classroom helpers. Even more, your students need the opportunity to have jobs. It increases their sense of ownership, gives practice with responsibility, and can even reduce your workload. It can also smooth the running of the classroom.
Harry Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher is the best resource on the subject if you want to rethink you the way you approach it. If you like your system overall and just need some clever visual or hands-on means of keeping track, here are some fun ideas:
Probably the fastest and easiest plan is to use a bulletin board set. Plenty of bulletin boards can be adapted to this purpose, if you have a theme in mind. The key to success is to choose one with pockets or spaces that you can label with jobs, plus pieces you can label with the kids’ names. Here are some of our favorite ready-made ones:
Handy Helpers is an easy way to sort out classroom jobs. You just write each student’s name on one of the hand tools, write the jobs on the handyman’s pockets (some are ready labeled), and match the student to the job. This set goes well with a community helpers theme.
- Monsters at Work Bulletin Board
- Overalls Job Set
- Backpack Job bulletin board set
- Big Frog Job Assignment Bulletin Board Set
- Busy Bees job bulletin board set
One of our local teachers hangs yarn from the ceiling and writes student names on cutouts to match her theme. Then she just moves a new cutout up to the top each week for each job. It’s more trouble than the board-based solutions, but it’s a help if you have limited wall space.
For older grades, or just for greater durability, consider a pocket chart.
Asking students at the time — “Jordan, would you please help me hand out the papers today?” models courtesy for students and can provide a transition. Teachers who find themselves reminding students every day anyway (or worse, spending five minutes on the, “Now, who’s my line leader today?” discussion) may find that this approach is simpler.
On the other hand, choosing a job for each student and keeping it for a full semester allows students to become good at their jobs and can simplify classroom routines. If you do this, have the outgoing Plant Monitor train the new one when the time comes to switch jobs.