Student jobs save my sanity especially during the end of the semester where, even in elementary school, schedules are affected by testing and holiday related activities. Let me tell you one reason why:
My classes all start exactly the same way. I’m lucky that all of my classes are technically beginner level, so it even looks almost exactly the same in every room too. (Although, it would be similar in many ways for an advanced class.) First, my calendar kid stands up and reviews the day, date, and weather. They have tons of manipulatives to help scaffold the process for them. I closely monitory (or model, depending on the class) the proceedings for the first four or five weeks, after that I hand over the reins entirely to this part of class. Now, in December, they are all running smoothly without my need to do much more than direct the class to pay attention to the calendar kid. It does feel, many times, as if I don’t even need to be in the room for this portion of class. And today, I wasn’t!
Due to testing, my 45-minute class had to trade with a 30-minute class. I had worried all day how I was going to shrink down my class but came to no real conclusions. I need not ever have worried, I should have known these kids would have my back. I walked in and couldn’t even put down my things before the calendar kid was by my side. He informed me that they had also been concerned about the time, so all of the students who had any of our opening routine jobs had already done everything they needed. Moreover, they had done all of this at the original time! They really like to be the first thing that happens in their class every morning, I guess.
In this case, I have four students who open this class. My calendar kid is a strong leader, so he rotates through assistants by training them in his job then firing them and hiring someone new. I never know who will be standing with him, or how he manages this. I don’t ask because I trust (with good reason) that he is fulfilling his role as a teacher in the class to his best ability. He, and his trusty assistant makes sure that we review the day, date, and weather. Next, we have P.O.W and W.O.W. kids. Their job is more about Spanish being fun than anything else, but fun is important! These kids have a phrase (p.o.w. such as ‘that’s gross!’) or a word (w.o.w. – generally an action like dances, eats, runs, etc.) that they present to the class in the most appropriate theatrical manner they can manage, which is then repeated by the rest of the class. It’s a nice, low-stress way to transition into my goal of a Spanish-only class. Plus, the kids who really need some spotlight time get it, while setting the class up for success!
I got this approach from Tina Hargaden (who has a book on this subject at https://ci-liftoff.teachable.com/) and Brett Chonko (find him at https://comprehensiblerva.wordpress.com/). I have a bunch of other jobs that I use, but I keep them very flexible and based 100% around what I need at the moment. My HR manager and trainer are my most important, because they keep track of who is doing what job and how the jobs are done. They are really the heart and brains behind my classroom management, and I function much better with them, than I ever did without them.