Kids love to help. This is obvious with little kids, but even when they stop being little and cute, they still get excited if you throw a little responsibility at them. Students are a free labor resource we often forget to utilize in the upper grades, which is exactly when they start to get useful. Kindergarteners may not be able to move very far beyond Pencil Sharpener and Line Leader, but if you teach big kids, it’s time to make your life a whole lot easier. Presenting…my favorite classroom jobs for middle school.
P.S. In my book “cleaning the room,” doesn’t count because that’s something they should be doing anyway.
They can plan field trips.
My middle school students are always nagging me about field trips. Let’s face it; planning these is a pain, and it often gets neglected in favor of more urgent tasks. I’ve created a field trip proposal form (which is shockingly similar to the one my district uses…) that students can use to plan our field trips.
This way, they do the research upfront and I just look over it and pass it along for a rubber stamp. The kids have great ideas, and finding out ticket prices and availability is well within their wheelhouse. The paragraph explaining how it connects to the curriculum is sure to scare off any kid with a suggestion that’s completely out of line.
They can make beautiful bulletin boards.
Maybe you’re the kind of teacher who has a limitless well of creative bulletin board ideas or your own die cut thingy. If so, more power to you. Don’t let those kids steal your joy. But if you’re like me and the mere sight of the Pinterest logo makes you break out in hives, you’re probably ready to bid this task goodbye.
Put those artistic kids you teach on top of it! Scribble all the pertinent information on a sticky note, hand them a roll of butcher paper, and go get busy on something else!
They can do community outreach.
Like field trips, getting involved in the community is a noble goal that often gets shortchanged in the face of the daily grind. Kids, however, are a great resource for this! Not only do they have connections you don’t, they’re also probably cuter, what with all the fresh-faced youthful optimism. Your students want to get a bunch of food donated by African restaurants to celebrate the end of this social studies unit? Great! Make it happen!
Here’s a disclaimer, though. Kids aren’t the most organized bunch in the universe, and they love doing things in groups. If you’re going to have extensive community outreach rather than just, say, a single guest speaker, pick a really responsible kid to head it up and stay on top of them. It also helps to provide a script they can use for phone calls.
They can help with lesson planning.
It used to make me crazy when kids suggested activities or review games. Mostly because their “suggestions” were things like, “Let’s watch the movie It when we finish reading To Kill a Mockingbird!” Now, I only accept lesson plan suggestions in writing.
If they can suggest an activity that connects to the curriculum, it’s at least worth reading about. I get fewer suggestions now (which is great). While some are still not practicable, the kids have helped me steal some great ideas from what they’re doing in other classes.
They can handle seating arrangements.
I don’t think I’ll ever let my kids actually assign their classmates’ seats, but they’re great at coming up with new ways to arrange the desks. Give them a few guidelines. For instance, everyone has to be able to see the board and needs to be easy to move around the room. Then let them submit a design.
Letting kids have input into how your classroom works empowers them, and it saves you a lot of time. Stop wasting time on things your students could do for you. Grading essays? Attending IEP meetings? Outsource it! Okay, maybe there are a few things you’ll have to do yourself. But students are a fantastic source of both ideas and labor, and they’re eager to give you their input.
What are your favorite classroom jobs for middle school? Please share your ideas in the comments.