Plastic pouches velcroed to wall house the Secretary's record of classroom jobs.
Plastic pouches velcroed to wall house the Secretary’s record of classroom jobs and the official version of the class LiPe.

On the third day of classes I began setting up student jobs. I started with these six jobs: the Bouncer, the seating chart person, the personal assistant, the secretary, the note taker, and Donald Trump.

Bouncer/el portero: this person is responsible for closing the door when the bell rings. Any student will be counted tardy if they enter after the door has been closed. I tell my bouncer that they can recommend Tardes for some students who arrive after the bell but I a if they enter after the door has been closed.

Seating chart person: after a couple days, students have begun to show their personalities. The seating chart person is responsible for creating a chart and keeping it current. Over the first two weeks of classes, I tend to make several tweaks in seating. Depending on the situation, I usually make changes spontaneously in class. When I do, this person quietly stands and gets the seating chart from the hook on the wall, makes appropriate changes, and replaces it, walking back to his or her seat without disrupting the flow of class.

Personal assistant/ El Asistente Personal: this student makes sure I have three different colored markers and an eraser on the whiteboard tray before class begins.

Donald Trump/El Donaldo: this person must learn how to say “You’re fired!” For those times when students don’t do their jobs well. They do not actually get to fire anyone. I do the firing. They send the message.

Secretary/El Secretario: this person tracks all the class jobs and the students assigned to them. I can’t possibly remember all of the students who are assigned to specific jobs. This role is critical. She or he documents everything in a special booklet. The booklet is color coded by hour and kept in a plastic pouch at the front of the room under the SmartBoard. The secretary must have the booklet with them during class to make changes if need be.

When I need to be reminded who is my bouncer, I smile and call out, “¡Secretaria!” The student responds at the ready, “¡Mande!” Later, after students have gained more confidence and ability, I will change the response to something longer, more playful, or more complex. I might change it to, “¿Qué necesita, señor?” Or if the student can handle it, “¿En qué puedo servirle?”

Note Taker/el Copista: Students used to be expected to keep a single composition notebook throughout the year. Despite that ALWAYS failing, I stuck to it and blamed the kids for not being able to take care of their stuff. Now, we create a 10 page notebook for each month of the school year. I call it the LiPe. That’s short  for Libreta Personal, or personal journal. The LiPe got it’s name from the Curriculum Director of El Lago del Bosque at Concordia Language Villages in 1998 and it stuck (with me, anyway).

el LiPe

We use Cornell-Note paper (we’re an AVID school) and staple a cover page to it that is color-coded to match the Secretary’s booklet. This helps me quickly identify the owner of a LiPe that’s been found in the cafeteria or elsewhere.

The students number the pages, use a table of contents, and, at least in theory, all have the same information in the LiPe. That’s where things break down.

Students are absent sometimes. And, since I’m not a robot, I change and adapt my teaching each period of the day. That means that the contents of the LiPe will necessarily vary. Yet, I need an official version of the Lipe for each class period that students can use as a reference if they’re absent and that I can use to prepare quizzes and document all that’s been taught. I used to track that all by myself and it. drove. me. crazy.

Enter the Copista. This student is ideally a self-sufficient, highly organized, efficient worker who has good handwriting and dependable attendance. I fully and completely depend on this person to create the official record of what we’ve written in our LiPes. She or he will take any notes required of them in class, but also duplicates those notes in my LiPe. She or he must have their own and my LiPe with them at all times during class. It must be placed back in the pouch at the end of class so it is accessible to students who need it.

All of these 6 jobs, with the exception of El Donaldo, are absolutely critical in helping me run an efficient classroom. They save me time and energy. They simplify my job. They empower students and in many cases help highlight student talents.

Today was the fourth day of classes. Kids had only gotten their jobs the day before. I had to start class by emphasizing the importance of the jobs I had created. I was ready. As soon as the bell rang, and my bouncer closed the door, I said, “Clase, un aplauso para Nick!” and handed him a small token of my appreciation in the form of a dumdum. Next, I called on the secretary to remind me of who my Personal Assistant was. When she said, “Mande!” and gave me the name, I awarded her with a dumdum. I checked to see that my markers were in place. I briefly showered my Personal Assistant with some positive attention (and a dumdum) before moving on to the meat of the class. Starting with just a few like this has helped me to intentionally reinforce them. We all know that if it’s going to stick we need to reinforce these over and over. Having too many makes that difficult. It’s the daily reinforcement that reminds students they really are doing a job. This is what make establishes value in the jobs and makes kids want to continue doing them.

None of these jobs are specific to TPRS or TCI. It’s just classroom management stuff. I have lots of other jobs that I’ll be introducing next week that are specific to a TPRS class. Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, what jobs do you consider critical in the first week of school in your classroom?

Setting up Student Jobs

13 thoughts on “Setting up Student Jobs

    • September 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      It depends. Some jobs, like the note taker, can last one, two, or three trimesters. Jobs that are strictly classroom management items like closing doors and passing out pencils are rotated quite frequently. A couple few weeks five or six at the most. I usually change my seating every six weeks and that is a good time to change jobs.if you have seen pictures of my room, I have kids in six person pods. When I change seating I have to reestablish who does what in the new pods. But there are some Jobs that are simply put more important than others to my own sanity. Quiz writers is one of them. Note taker is another. If I find good ones I will usually keep them for a good long while.

      • September 15, 2015 at 9:42 pm

        I’m having trouble with the quizzes coming from the quiz writer. Either they are asking questions that are not in the story or are tricky. I’ve been doing the quizzes lately because of this, but I would like to get the quiz writer back to work! What suggestions do you have for this? Do you give them guidelines to ensure the quizzes test what the kids know rather than trying to trick them? Thanks!

        • September 15, 2015 at 11:09 pm

          Hi Melissa! Great news! We’ve all struggled with this very thing. Any student job that is worth having is also worth your time to train them how to do according to your expectations. We can’t neglect that part or we won’t get anything but a headache.

          So, Here’s how I deal with the quiz writer job. My quiz writer is instructed to write a quiz based on what is discussed during a specific time during class. If it’s story time or PQA time or whatever, they start recording when I say so. That’s only fair to the students so they know that what they’re hearing NOW may be asked about on the quiz.

          I give them these guidelines:
          1. Write 15 or more statements in Spanish about the facts of today’s class.
          2. Use today’s target vocabulary in each statement.
          3. Write about half of the statements true and half false.
          4. Write Verdad (V) o Mentira (M) depending on the correct answer.
          5. Listen carefully to what is said to help you write in correct Spanish, but don’t worry too much. Write what sounds right then move on.
          6. Please write 1-2 statements that can be inferred from what is said: something that is not said directly but can be said indirectly, supported by knowing the facts.
          7. Please know I am not likely going to use your questions exactly as written. I will tweak them as I need to. That’s my job.

          When I have a new quiz writer, I will begin PQA with a statement containing a target phrase. I’ll get a response from the class, like “Ohhhh!” Let’s say the target structure is “wants to have” and my statement is “Jayden wants to have a new iPhone.” I’ll actually stop, turn to the QW and say, “Ok, so, that was a super interesting statement that the class needs to know. So write down 1 true and one false statement using that language now.”
          Since I’d be saying that in English, I would first walk over to my Spanish/English sign and flip it to English (or whatever you use to make clear to kids that it’s Spanish time).
          After I say that once or three times, I usually can just make eye contact with the QW and get a nod from her or him to make sure they’re tracking subsequent statements.
          I almost always tweak the questions myself on the fly, even if they’re good, just to reinforce to the quiz writer that she/he is not trying to play gotcha with her/his classmates, that ultimately I’m the one responsible for choosing the quiz questions.
          I might quickly go over some statements with the QW at the end of class and give a quick pointer or something for next time as well.
          I understand your frustration with bad quiz writers. I’ve had them. But it’s such an important job for me – it saves me SO much time and effort – I am willing to train them to give me exactly what I’m looking for.
          I hope that helps, Melissa! LMK if you have more questions!

          • September 15, 2015 at 11:09 pm

            PS I think these quiz writing guidelines were adapted from Bryce Hedstrom’s, but I’m not totally sure anymore…

          • September 15, 2015 at 11:35 pm

            Wow. Thank you SOOOO much. I am at my desk now and have much more confidence in putting the QR back to work. Do you have the QR take the quiz too??? How do you deal with that? What kind of grade does the QR get on those pop listening quizzes and for how long would they be in that role? Seems like it’s a good “power roll”. Thanks again!!

          • September 15, 2015 at 11:39 pm

            Quiz writer absolutely takes the quiz (cause it’s a little different). They never get less than 9/10 though. I sometimes keep the quiz writer a long time if they’re that good. If not I change it up when needed. 3 wks?

  • May 6, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    What if you have a logey class and no volunteers for jobs? Do you assign them?

    • May 7, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Angie, I will often talk with a kid before/after class one on one and ask them to help me be a better teacher and make class more fun by doing their job. For example, I often have a kid shout a whiney “wheeeen” whenever I say “cuando”. If there isn’t a volunteer, I have in the past gone to a kid who I think would do it well (talking about timing, voice, confidence… thinking about all that) and say, “hey let’s play a trick on the class today …” then she and I are in on an inside joke that the class doesn’t yet know about. Then, eye contact right before saying it is the trigger and saying it as many times as you can during the class solidifies the job, reinforces the meaning, makes her feel special and brings laughs for everyone.

  • July 27, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Can you give me an example of what you expect your students to write in their own LiPe?

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  • September 22, 2016 at 12:42 am

    My “5 minute person” is crucial for me all year!!! They flash 5 with a raised hand and let me know I have 5 minutes left of class. And if that person is late or still talking with their partner other kids have been stealing that job and started saying “Cinco minutos!” which by the way, I never taught explicitly. They put it together after learning how to tell time and say statements related to the clock!

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