Jobs in the Invisibles Classroom

In terms of their classes, there are certain “big words” associated with school in the minds of kids like: test, homework, grades. Those words all carry an air of negativity, if you think about it. But there is one word in the Invisibles program that doesn’t carry a negative feeling: jobs.

Of the more than 50 jobs that I created over the 15 years in my own CI teaching, I still use 15 of them on a daily basis with the Invisibles. Each one is a survivor among the many of the others that I don’t use anymore. The 15 Invisibles jobs are the cream of the crop of 15 years of experimentation.

The jobs form one of the “legs” on the three legged stool that is the Invisibles approach. When the kids who have jobs come into the classroom each day, they come in with their heads held a little higher, full of confidence, eager to do their jobs.

What a good message to send to a child – that jobs are good! Wouldn’t it be nice if that feeling of being valued, important and useful to others, because they have a skill that is unique to them and has value to the community, could continue on throughout their entire lives? We lay down railroad tracks for lives.

If, as their “employers”, we could teach our students to think of the word “job” in a positive way, wouldn’t it be such a great gift for each one of them beyond the gift of the language that we bring them each day using comprehensible input?

The other two legs on the Invisibles stool – the questioning levels and the characters – are of major importance, of course, but the jobs have their own unique role in the Invisibles approach. They act as a kind of “glue” in the classroom. Once they have all been filled, by late fall usually or early winter, the classroom takes on a wonderful feel to it that can’t help but be noticed by visitors.

And even when we “fire” a child, we do so in a lighthearted way so that we never hurt the vibrant strength and good feelings that we have created in our community classroom.

Just remember that for one word images, to set up our Invisibles program, we only need an artist and a Prof 2. This means that we never fill jobs randomly or too early, and we never “assign” jobs to children who may not be qualified or don’t want to do them.

Instead, we watch the class carefully over weeks before hiring the other 12 jobs. With the Hub D “tech” jobs we wait months. Jobs must emerge organically.



6 thoughts on “Jobs in the Invisibles Classroom”

    1. Yes and I like to arrange them in terms of four “Hubs”. In Hub A to my right are the two artists and the two-story writers. The first artist is responsible for artistic design and is the main artist. The second artist colors in and shades, etc. The first story writer writes in English and the second story writer writes in the target language. This would be a Heritage speaker or a very gifted student. In front of me in the center of the room at the center of Hub B is the Videographer and then to her immediate left is the Reader Leader. To the right of the Videographer is the story driver. The third hub to my left, Hub C, is anchored by the all-important Prof 2 and to her right are the Actors. Also in that hub I have an empty chair, a comfortable arm chair, for supervisors and visitors so that I can try to teach them some language when they’re in the room and give them a feel for what it is like to learn using comprehensible input. Hub D does not occupy any single space area in the room. Rather they are a tech hub which works independently out of class with each other. There are four such jobs. The first is the Archivist, then the Documentary Filmmaker, then the Book Publisher Publisher, and finally the Curator, who is responsible for the end-of-the-year celebration of the work of the Filmmaker and the Book Publisher, and so we in this way of teaching can show off at the end of our year together, instead of pile of worksheets, actual artifacts, that represent real work done.

  1. Many jobs I’ve tried and let fade away. Some just didn’t blend with my class dynamics. Others blend very nicely, like butter on toast. One of these o-so-buttery jobs that you don’t mention above, Ben, is the Class Secretary. My Class Secretary tallies, on a hard copy of the class roster, whenever a student speaks in Spanish (besides the choral responses, of course). At the end of class we pause for a moment to look at that tally sheet and celebrate those that are speaking in Spanish.

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