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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: classroom jobs in elementary music

As part of my effort to build community in my classroom, I introduced classroom jobs in my elementary music classroom this year. I have found it to be a very effective way to encourage students to work together, take ownership of the equipment and materials, and feel connected to the community in my classroom.


I have 6 jobs in my room- one for each color group in my class. The students are assigned to a color team according to where they sit in the classroom, and we have actually rolled out the team system building-wide in a quasi-Harry Potter house system, where we do team-building activities and contests by team (so the students on the red team in every class work together), and it has been fantastic (read more about my color teams here). I assigned a job to each team and switch the jobs halfway through each trimester, so everyone will do each job once by the end of the year.

My 6 jobs are: teacher helper, line leader, supplies, cleanup, attendance, and compliment. Teacher helpers do any odd jobs that come up- closing the door, running an errand, turning off the lights, etc. The line leader team is the first to line up at the end of class (read about my end of class procedures here). The supplies team passes out supplies like pencils, clipboards, mallets, and papers, and the cleanup team cleans up those supplies when we're done. The attendance team doesn't actually take official attendance- I don't record attendance in my room- but when students are missing I ask them to find out if they are absent, in the bathroom, or somewhere else (to make sure I have everyone in my room that I should!). 

The compliment job is my favorite. I give out a happy note to one student at the end of each class (read more about that here) and it has been my number-one motivator and community builder since I started the system almost 2 years ago. This year I decided that, instead of just receiving compliments from me, students should be practicing giving compliments to each other as well. At the beginning of the year I explained that, at the end of each class, someone from the compliment team would be responsible for giving a specific compliment to someone else who is not on their team. I made the compliment open to anything they wanted- clothing, general personality traits, things they did in music class, or anything else that they knew the person would appreciate hearing. So far the students have been doing pretty well! And I am noticing that they are getting better at being specific in their compliments, and the students look forward to the compliment each day almost as much as they do the happy note :)


The students take their jobs very seriously. There are several classes where the compliment team will start whispering to each other, deciding on who and what to compliment, as we are lining up. If I ever fall back into my old ways and start passing out supplies, the supply team will actually get offended and insist that they should be handing them out! It does sometimes take more time initially when they are learning how to pass things out or how to give a compliment, but I think overall it has actually saved time because I can take care of other things while they help out. More importantly, the students are working together and contributing to the music classroom community, and that is building respect for each other and for the things we use, and it is building self-esteem and cooperation as well. I'd call that a win!

Do you use classroom jobs in your music classroom? I'd love to hear which ones you use as well- share your ideas in the comments below!

23 comments :

  1. Love, love, love your compliment idea!!!!

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    1. The kids are really starting to get into it and they remind me if I'm ever in a hurry and forget! :)

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  2. Love ALL of your ideas! I would love to pick you brain! Lol.

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  3. I have enjoyed reading articles on your blog. Your ideas are wonderful! How do you keep track of which student has which job and in which class? Do you use a cheating chart to help you keep track of which student has which job? Your help would be appreciated.

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    1. Hi! I assign each "team" (or group of students) to a job and then rotate them halfway through each trimester so everyone does all the jobs before the end of the year (I have 6 groups). So all of the "green team" students have the same job in every class for that period.

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    2. Do you rotate students in seats so they are now a new color or do you rotate the jobs on the colored paper so the students remain the same color all year? Ours isn't school wide so I'm trying to decide how to best incorporate this. I do like to move seats around a few times a year (we have 4 marking periods) and find I have to for behavior issues as well. I'm thinking of just shifting vertical lines of students over from one color to the next on the rug every 6 classes or so to ensure those who need to remain in the front to learn better are still in the front. Any ideas?

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    3. If you like to change seats anyway, then I think it would work well to move the students instead of the jobs. It would probably also be easier for you to keep track of who does what. I have always kept students in the same seats once I get them where I want them, so I rotate the magnets on the board and the students stay in the same colors all year.

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  4. This is a great idea! I think I'll give it a try in my classroom this year.

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    1. I have really enjoyed this system- let me know how it goes for yoU! :)

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  5. Do you tell the compliment team who they need to compliment so people don't get left out?

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    1. No. I make the rounds with my happy notes, so I don't worry too much about that aspect. Part of what I want them to learn is to be happy for them when other people get a compliment. To be honest though, most kids look forward to giving the compliment more than receiving one, and everyone gets a turn at that :)

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    2. May I ask what the "happy notes" are?

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  6. With so many students and classes how do you mark on the Helper board who is doing what? I would love to implement this but I teach K-3 and have over 400 students.

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    1. I don't assign individual students to the jobs- the whole color group shares the job. There is no way I could keep track of that many students (I have around 350)!

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    2. Yes, I figured. I then realized that you have tape down on the floor that color codes with the jobs. Mine sit on a carpet with colored squares but we only have 5. I was able to modify for us. Hoping this works well this year. Thank you for the idea!

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  7. I LOVE your ideas and I'm so happy to have found your page!
    Do you use the job board for all grades? I teach K - 6.

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    1. Thank you Becky! I teach K-6 and use it with everyone except K.

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  8. What would you do with a class of 10 or a class of 44? I had each one of these back to back last year. My smallest class next to my largest class. I would really love to implement this but I don't know if I need all the teams every class...do you make up things for them to do? I also don't know how to divide the kids if there are too many or too few?

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    1. Goodness. Do you see the class of 44 in small groups? I ask because I have large chorus classes but I see those kids in general music in small groups as well. If I need something done I get someone who knows their job from general music- I don't assign the larger classes specifically to jobs. I don't know what I would do about assigning jobs for that large of a class... maybe I would split into 12 groups- like red 1, red, 2, orange 1, orange 2 etc and then have all the 1's do the jobs for a few weeks and then all the 2's? For the smaller classes I just assign the students to fewer colors- like just the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) and they do whatever jobs their color is on for the other classes. If I need things done that are not one of their "jobs" they are always willing to do extra ;)

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  9. Thank you so much! I am wondering what happens with the line leader group? Do they all take turns being the leader of the line after music? Is this the same with taking attendance? Do they all take turns each week?

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    1. I treat that as jbs for the group as a whole, so generally they do their jobs collaboratively. So for line leader that means the whole group is at the front of the line, whatever order they may be in within the group, and for attendance, I ask the group as a whole and whoever knows answers. I'm always looking for more ways to force them to practice teamwork!!! ;) The line leader thing may make more sense if you know how I line the class up at the end of each class- here's my post on that if you haven't seen it: http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/2015/03/teacher-tuesday-routines-for-end-of.html

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