Rethinking Classroom Jobs: The Essential Crew

Behind every successful company, there are hardworking employees.  Showing up to work every day with a smile.  Offering their hearts and souls to make things happen.  Ready to pitch in when the going gets tough.  Working together toward a common goal.

As a new school year is on the horizon, my thoughts have been focused on building community in my classroom.  Like a successful company, a classroom needs dedicated students who care about our space and work collaboratively to keep our days running as smoothly as possible while together.

What better way to encourage accountability and community than to implement a job structure within the classroom!  Not a new concept, I’m aware.  Over the years, I’ll admit that I’ve had several versions of this very thing, but always felt that I was missing the mark somehow.  Reflecting on what went well (and what didn’t) as well as researching how other elementary teachers approach classroom jobs, I think I’ve devised a system that will appeal to my new crop of students.  Consider this.

In the past, I created a job for every student so that no one felt left out.  No more. I took the number of students, divided them in half and used that number to help me decide which jobs were essential to keeping the classroom moving while giving students independence and me more time to teach (more on the selection later.)  This year, I have 18 registered students; therefore I have 9 jobs.  I know some of you are wondering what will happen if I gain or lose students.  Don’t worry, I factored extra jobs into the mix for this very reason.

By having half as many jobs as students, I will be rotating the jobs on a weekly basis.  In our classroom, students are assigned a class number. Using the number system, I have placed numbers 1 and 2 on either side of the first job, 3 and 4 on either side of the second job, and so on.  The first week of school will be an “odd” week, so the odd numbers will be responsible for the jobs.  Week 2 will be an “even” week, so the responsibility will shift to the even numbers.  After both odd and even numbers have completed the first rotation, I will keep the numbers in place and simply advance the jobs by one so that a new job awaits each student either during the odd or even number week that follows.  This plan sounds good in theory, so I’m hopeful that the unveiling and implementation will be seamless, too!

With half as many jobs as I’m accustomed to assigning, selecting the jobs that would become the essential “Crew” list required heavy thinking.  About non-negotiable ones and ones that I felt students would embrace.  Thinking about the classroom routines helps to narrow down the list.  One of the articles that I read online ( posited that some jobs are considered “indefinite” or “semi-permanent” like a librarian.  Not every student is cut out for this type of work; therefore, it’s not on the regular rotation and may last longer than the traditional one week duration. Other jobs can be considered in this way, too.  I like knowing that I can add jobs in this capacity along the way and not be tied down to a long list of jobs for the entire school year.

Here’s the list of essential jobs that I selected:

  • Lunch Count (responsible for tallying lunch choices daily for kitchen)
  • Office Runner (I debated calling this Errand Runner, but felt that most often trips are made to the office vs. elsewhere)
  • Teacher’s Helper (really a catch-all for unexpected things that surface – whatever you need!)
  • Paper Passer (could be named Materials Manager, but in reality we pass out mostly paper, so I kept it authentic)
  • Line Leader (responsible for setting the example of model hallway behavior leading class outside of classroom)
  • Lunch Patrol (responsible for picking a classmate to bring lunch bucket to cafe before recess and back to classroom after lunch)
  • Tech Assistant (responsible for making sure all Chromebooks are back in cart AND charging and can also assist classmates with troubleshooting if desired)
  • Floor Monitor (mostly an end-of-day job, but can be throughout day, to be sure floor is clean and chairs get stacked)
  • Substitute

The extra jobs that I have so far either to replace, add into the rotation, or consider as indefinites depending on effectiveness and status of the class are:

  • Librarian
  • Phone Assistant (we just got new phones and instead of being wall-mounted, they sit on teacher’s desk which made me re-think this as a job)
  • Pencil Manager

During the first week of school, I plan to use interactive modeling to “teach” the jobs so that students can be successful right from the start.  As with many rising companies, there are bound to be growing pains.  If you have thoughts or tips on my plan, my ears are open!  I’m optimistic and excited to share this new system with my rising fourth graders next week!


6 thoughts on “Rethinking Classroom Jobs: The Essential Crew

    • I have had Milk Patrol in past and that used to be a coveted job when more people signed up for milk. When only one person signs up, I think it’s perceived as less fun. Needless to say, milk patrol did not make the final cut this year! (Watch, I’ll probably have 6 Ss sign up for milk!)


  1. I love hearing about your thought process and can’t wait to hear how it goes. Being a contributing member of a community is important – we all like to be helpful and it shifts our sense of agency. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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