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).
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?