The jobs piece does SO MUCH for developing a relaxed and honestly human energy in the classroom. It is a second unexpectedly exploding star next to the jGR Interpersonal Skills Assessment star that exploded here about five weeks ago and keeps expanding to everyone’s benefit.
Two quick examples of how the jobs bring a certain kind of magic into the feeling of teaching in an authentically fun way – examples of how the jobs have effectively removed the tension that I used to have with classes (not with individual kids as I talk to them in the hallways but the “class tension” piece) – are:
1. The kid who last year seemed like a block of wood now has three jobs, one of them as book collector at the end of class. When I started picking up books earlier in the year, he said to me, “Why are you doing that Mr. S, that’s MY job!” And so in that pleasant little exchange we got to know each other a bit better and so since he knows I like him and have offered him extra credit* for jobs – a BIG motivator, the overall class relaxes, one kid at a time.
2. For this next comment to make sense you may need to reread the article entitled “A Few More Jobs” here:
It’s where I give the laser pointer to a good strong reader to guide the class along on the LCD projection of the story (this is Laser Metronome Person – LMP). As the Laser Metronome Person bouncing red balls the words, the Reader Leader (RL) leads the choral reading by the class, and the Signer (S) uses sign language to the group, Note that the three have to slow down for each other. S can’t keep up with RL if LMP starts going too fast. Like when the first violin section starts speeding up the rest of the orchestra. So this triad is an excellent new addition to the reading classes.
*extra credit is given at a minimum of book keeping for me. I have a form to keep track of who does what job in every six week grading period. Then, the way this works with a minimum of effort on the part of the teacher, is that I just open the grade book, find a quiz that was a 7, bump it to a 10, see what that does to the grade, and if it bumps up from a C+ to a B, the kid is happy and I am happy and it takes me all of 30 seconds to account for that extra credit. As I get more experience in this profession, I realize more and more how teachers self destruct by doing more work than they need to, as per the Merton quote (search function: Merton).