Teaching Students to Accept Responsibility

Many teachers in primary schools take it upon themselves to teach students to accept the responsibility of doing a job well and helping their classmates and their teacher have a happy and successful time at school.

These teachers have a series of jobs/duties that are spread among the class to ensure the efficient management of the class. The students change their jobs each term or week so that every student learns to do each job and to do it well.

Here is a list of jobs/duties shared in one class I saw as a relief teacher:

1. Collecting tuck shop orders and delivering them to the tuck shop/canteen.
2. Collecting the tuck shop box at morning tea and lunch time.
3. Returning the tuck box to the tuck shop after morning tea and to the class room after lunch.
4. This school had what it called a “Blue Bag”. Each morning, students put important message, notes, order forms etc. in it ready to be taken to the office by the duty student.
5. Answering the class phone if the teacher is occupied.
6. Reminding the teacher at 9.35 a.m. that it was time for the fruit break.
7. Collect the “Blue Bag” from the office at 2.30 p.m.
8. Check if the teacher wanted the boards cleaned.
9. Deliver messages for the teacher to other class rooms.
10. At lunch time on Friday, the student reminded the teacher about their weekly class raffle.
11. At the end of Friday’s lessons, the student had to remind the teacher that all chairs had to be put up to help the cleaning staff.

All these duties and the duty person were displayed on a notice board that was easy to see usually near the door or the main whiteboard or screen.

The duty roster was designed for other reasons than the smooth running of the class. They were:

• Teaching students about accepting responsibility to do a job well and on time;
• Developing leadership skills;
• Developing a work ethic;
• Learning to do things that the student did not want to do but was required to do.

In another class room, near the front door, I saw a list of personal responsibilities that a teacher expected her students to take care of before school and during breaks. These were designed for the students to be in the best physical condition when they walk into the class room. The poster beside the door read:

Before school and during first and second break

1. Go to the toilet;
2. Wash your hands; and
3. Have a drink of water.

Going to the toilet and wanting a drink of water are the two items that interrupt student learning often. Therefore, the teacher was aiming to remove these reasons for disruptions to learning.

In a third class room, I saw what the teacher called, “The Job Chart”.

Each job was written on a laminated A6 sheet with a picture or a diagram of the job. These were attached to a notice board with the laminated names of the two students responsible for that job in that week. The list of jobs is a little different but more extensive than the one first mentioned above. The list included:

1. Library monitor;
2. Office messenger;
3. Floor cleaner;
4. Shelf monitor;
5. Bin monitor;
6. Cushion monitor;
7. Sacred Space creator;
8. Whiteboard monitor;
9. Lights/fans/AC/windows monitor;
10. Tuckshop monitor;
11. Answer the phone/class ambassador;
12. Handy helper.

This list has two advantages. Firstly, it allows the teacher to give every student a job every week in the average size class. Secondly, there are some jobs which are less desirable or “dirty” jobs. This helps students learn to do the job even though it is one they would rather not do. The job roster changed each week. Therefore, in a normal size class over a whole year, the students would do most jobs three or four times.

The jobs help students to accept responsibility for helping create a great class room environment. All the students contribute showing what can be achieved when they work together and individually on their jobs. The results are amazing. The room was always neat and tidy. Everything is in the right place and nothing gets lost. No time was lost. Learning continues apace and we have a happy class room.

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