There are so many ways to do everything in teaching, and it seems as though everyone has an opinion about the best way to do things. I’m not saying my ways are the best, but here are some systems that work really well in my classroom.
No Class Jobs
I know this goes against everything they tell you in teaching school, but I do not like class jobs. I feel like I have to make things up to have enough, and the kids always forget and only some kids really care about their job. So here is what I do instead: The school I teach at is a character focus school, so I emphasize responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility to clean up after themselves. It is every student’s responsibility to make sure they sharpen their own pencils, etc. It is also their responsibility to keep our room clean and clean up even if the mess isn’t theirs. I make sure to reward kids I see going above and beyond.
This is one of those little things that makes my life a million times easier. When I give students a stack of papers to pass out, if they have any extras they put them in the extra bin. Then if a student was in the bathroom and didn’t get one, instead of having to ask me for one, they can go get one on their own. Also if they lose a homework worksheet, they can always go get an extra.
I have a magnetic pocket on my whiteboard. As I’m going through the day, if we are doing a worksheet I will put the absent student’s name on a blank one and put it in the absent pocket. Then when the student returns, their first stop is to check the pocket for work with their name on it. I even put tests in there and then the student can bring it to me and I can schedule a time for them to take it later. But it puts the responsibility on them to come to me. I don’t have to chase down kids to assign make up work.
I don’t know about you, but I HATE dealing with pencils. I swear the kids eat them. They are always on the floor and I do not like the obnoxious noise the sharpener makes (that is if the kids haven’t broken it.) So I finally found a system that works alright for now. I allow the students to keep 2 pencils in their pencil pouch along with a hand-held pencil sharpener. Every Monday morning I give them 2 new pencils. The only time they are allowed to use the electric pencil sharpener is first thing in the morning and at the very end of the day. The rest of the time they have to use their hand-held sharpener. When I find a pencil on the floor I put it in the red caddy, so if a student has lost both their pencils they can use a lost pencil from the red caddy. I also have a post it note that says “if your pencil is this short (and I drew a line) throw it away!” I have lost too many pencil sharpeners because kids shove itty bitty pencils into them and gotten them stuck.
This might be my favorite system ever. The hours spent wasted arguing over who stands where in line gives me a migrane. At the beginning of the year I assign each student a number, alphabetically based on their last name. Then I teach them to line up in number order. Anytime we leave my classroom, going to lunch, recess, specials, etc, they line up in number order. My number 1 is the line leader and my number 25 is the caboose. This eliminates the need for a line leader job. I also train my caboose to close and lock the door behind them, since we have to do this for safety. The kids are better at remembering than I am. This system takes much less time and keeps talking kids apart. After a few months I switch and do reverse number order. Sometimes I really mix it up and change to first name alphabetical order.
Our positive behavior system uses Prosperity Tickets, or golden tickets as I usually call them. I hand them out often, so I keep them on top of my whiteboard so I can easily pull one off to hand to a student. I also punch a hole in them and keep them on my lanyard so I can still give them out when we’re out of the classroom. When students are on task I give them golden tickets and the students save them for rewards. Some of the rewards include being teacher for the day, writing with a fun pencil for the day, bringing a stuffy from home, picking a small trinket from my treasure box, using an ipad during reading time, and several other things. The important thing about rewards is that I let the kids pick the rewards and set the prices. If the kids aren’t invested in the rewards they won’t be motivated to earn tickets. I also give golden tickets if students remind me of things, like reading the learning target, or taking attendance. It lets them be accountable for what’s going on the classroom while helping me at the same time. Only a few students like to remind me of things, but those golden tickets mean a lot to them.
This little whiteboard is amazing. It’s right by the door and each box stands for something. The kids write their name in a box every time they leave the room individually. B- boys bathroom, G- girls bathroom, N-nurse (and I keep the pass right there) S- specialist (counselor, literacy specialist, sped teacher) and L- library.
I have other posts about my math centers, but keeping the directions on the board is really helpful so that the students can go back and reference it whenever they need to. It’s also easy for me to update there and hard for the kids to mess with.