As a math teacher, I try to tie the things that we do in class to the real world and give students a better understanding of how the world works. The classroom economy jobs system I want to share with you today is one that has served me well over the years and created an opportunity for me to infuse a little bit of economics into the classroom.
As anyone who has ever entered a classroom is well aware, the biggest challenge we face is that of classroom management. What makes it even harder is that because our students change every year, our classroom management system may need to be adjusted as well. My experience hasn’t been much different, but over the years, I have found a few components I like to use and that have worked with most of my student groups– even some of my middle school groups.
The basic idea of the classroom economy jobs system is that students each have a classroom job, earn classroom cash based on their job duties or for other contributions to our classroom society, and have the opportunity to spend their cash on things they want. The system is designed to be pretty simple because I did not want to overwhelm myself with a system that required a lot of time and effort. Once the system was set-up, it required minimal effort to run.
Here’s how it works:
- I create a “Help Wanted” center in the classroom where I display all of the classroom economy jobs with the job responsibilities and salary displayed.
- There are two types of jobs: nine-week jobs and weekly jobs. Nine-week jobs require students to complete an application and interview for a position. They pay weekly for nine weeks and the salary is a great deal more. The weekly jobs are available to students who do not have a nine-week job, but they rotate weekly. They do not require an application and pay less than the nine-week jobs. They also pay weekly but are typically only available every other week.
- I review all of the job postings and explain that all students will have a job, either as a nine-week worker or as a weekly worker. I then offer the students an opportunity to apply for a nine-week job. (I usually ask each student to find some way they can contribute to our classroom and apply for at least one job.)
- I review each application and ask follow-up questions to determine which students are the best fit for each nine-week job. (Once I make the initial selections, I do some job training with each student before setting them loose.)
- Students who are not selected for a nine-week job are placed in the rotation for the weekly jobs.
- Each Friday, my banker issues the earnings to each student based on his or her weekly pay.
- Students then have the opportunity to make a purchase, a coupon for a reward of some type or a treasure box pick, with their earnings or save them for later.
- After nine weeks, I offer students another opportunity to apply for a nine-week job. (As much as possible, I try to ensure each student gets a nine-week job at least once during the school year.)
The picture above illustrates an example of the classroom economy jobs posting on my job board. I place student pictures or a name tag next to the job responsibilities on each posting to identify the current job holder. For the weekly jobs, I post weekly job titles and my job manager rotates the job board each week and displays a new name next to each job title. I have included a list of my classroom jobs below.
* Nine-Week Jobs
- Banker- hands out weekly salaries
- Classroom Manager (2)- maintains various aspects of the classroom based on teacher needs
- Birthday Coordinator- prepares student birthday certificates and attaches a birthday pencil to give to students on their birthday
- Job Manager- manages the job board and rotates weekly jobs
- Lunch Monitor- takes the lunch count and records it on a campus Google doc
- Attendance Monitor (2)- prepares folders of absent work when students are absent
- Maintenance Manager (2)- maintains classroom cleanliness and organization
* Weekly Jobs
- Teacher Assistant- helps the teacher as needed
- Library Helper (2)- delivers books to the library for check-in on library day
- Runner- runs errands for the teacher
- Thursday Folder Helper- helps to stuff Thursday folders to go home with students
- Recycler (2)- takes recycling to an outdoor receptacle
- Gardener- waters classroom plants
- Noise Monitor- maintains classroom noise during group work or unstructured times
- Computer Monitor- ensures computers are turned off each day
My classroom economy jobs is a fun way to give students an opportunity to see what it is like applying and interviewing for a job. The system also infuses a little bit of responsibility as students have to complete their job tasks in order to keep their position. However, the best part has to be watching students spend their money on random things from the treasure box then learn to save up for a big ticket item. They learn so quickly!
Sound Off! How do you manage jobs in your classroom?