In these beginning days of school, teachers begin the lament of “Time, we never have enough time!” And it’s true, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to talk with all the students, teach all the lessons, evaluate all the projects, respond to all the writing, read all the books, sharpen all the pencils. How longingly we look at a short few weeks ago—summer!
I don’t have the answer that will solve every time challenge, but I do want to remind everyone that it’s a good teaching habit to ask this question of yourself: What task am I doing that students in class could handle just as well? Another way to look at it is to ask what task can be given away that also might teach students a new skill? It’s a conversation with yourself or your team of colleagues that may take some of that heavy load off your shoulders.
|photo credit: mrmayo via photo pin cc|
Here’s a list of the work in my class that students did at the middle school level:
§ a small group created a class scrapbook of the year
§ another group maintained the class blog
§ a group managed a large aquarium. One year we also had a turtle, which was observed and cared for by one student.
§ students handed back papers that had been evaluated and handed out new written assignments and other work that everyone needed
§ students kept several bins of journals/notebooks in order
§ students straightened and managed the materials shelves (paper, scissors, markers, art supplies, glue, etc.)
§ small groups acted as peer review groups for various tasks
§ everyone had a writing partner that could give advice and help before conferring with me
§ students took care of the ‘recommended’ book shelf, & created bulletin boards of book responses/reviews, favorites, etc.
§ students planned the special days, like parties, pajama days, organizing the food, the games, the decorations and the music
|photo credit: The University of Iowa Libraries via photo pin cc|
I know this is an ancient photo, but thought it was so cute with them reading together!
I realize that some might think that only older students are capable of doing these tasks, but the primary and intermediate teachers I know have job charts where tasks are managed like block organization and cleaning up the class, checking that the hall coats and boots area is tidy, bringing in the equipment like balls and jump ropes that are taken out for recess, reading partners, checking questions for field trips, and so on.
When you are running fast during the day, ask those earlier questions. The tasks students assume reward them as well as you. They help each child become an important part of the community, aiding in the class success, a double bonus.
Please share in the comments what other responsibilities your students have in the class.