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October 28, 2008

Classroom Helpers

Most pre-k classes that I have seen have some version of "Classroom Helpers" or student jobs.  These jobs -- which may be anything from line leader to librarian -- help to instill students with a sense of responsibility and foster community within the classroom.  In my class, every student has a different job each week.  So far we've established that the:

Line leader walks at the front of the line and models appropriate hallway behavior
Caboose walks at the back of the line while making sure everyone stays with the group
Door holder walks second in the line and holds the door as we're walking in the hall
Meeting announcer rings the bells before morning meeting
Equipment manager carries (or distributes) materials for outdoors (e.g. chalk, balls, jump ropes)
Electrician turns the lights off when we leave the room
Timekeeper gives "half way done" and "almost time to stop" warnings during center time
Botanist waters the classroom plants
Lunch servers pass out lunch to their peers
Meteorologist reports on the weather each day

We introduced these jobs slowly at the beginning of each year, and took time to discuss the importance of each job.  For example, when we introduced the botanist, we discussed what real botanists do, what plants need to live, how we could help plants live in our classroom, and why we have plants in our classroom.  I explained that I am not very good at keeping plants alive (a true fact) and underscored the importance of the botanist's role in our classroom. 

I place a great deal of emphasis on classroom jobs, and by extension, so do my students.  Malik, in particular, loves to tell his family all about his job each week; the first time he was the line leader, his mom told me that he tried to lead the family everywhere they went! 
Every Monday morning, before we even get to the classroom, my students pepper me with questions about what their job will be. When they get to the classroom they immediately go to the carpet and read the "Helper Chart" to figure out their responsibilities for the week. This is a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of reading as a means to gather information, and it helps students recognize the names of their classmates. We currently have pictures next to each job title and student name, but as the year progresses we will take away the pictures of students so they are left to recognize their names in print independently. 

I'm always looking for new jobs to introduce into our classroom. Currently I'm planning on establishing a veterinarian, scheduler, and attendance counter later in the year. If you have other suggestions about jobs that you've used in your classroom, please leave them in the "Comments" section! 


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