Student Jobs in the Science Classroom: A Guide for Teachers

August 8, 2023 No Comments

As teachers, we understand the challenges of running effective classrooms. We have so much to cover. And our time is incredibly limited. Not to mention, it’s difficult to challenge and engage students while taking care of all of the logistics of running a classroom. Using student jobs in your science classroom, you create a more productive and enjoyable classroom environment. And, you simultaneously teach valuable skills like collaboration, leadership and responsibility.

Benefits of Implementing Science Classroom Jobs

Science classroom jobs are more than just a fun aspect in the classroom. They’re about real skill development, teamwork and responsibility. And, assigning students tasks has the added benefit of freeing you up for the most important role in the classroom: facilitating the learning. Let’s discuss some of the major benefits of classroom jobs.

Here are just a few of the many benefits:

  • Shared Responsibility: When students are given an active role in the classroom, it is more likely to feel like their space.
  • Skill Development: Depending on the types of jobs available in your room, students work on skills such as the SEL core competencies. Also, they have the opportunity to learn more about lab equipment.
  • Teamwork: Collaboration is key in all aspects of science. This is just one way you can get your students to begin working together in the classroom.
  • Reduction in Classroom Management Tasks: A huge part of running an effective classroom is making sure that procedures are taught and reinforced. Often, reinforcing these procedures takes up a lot of time. But, they don’t always need to be done by the teacher. Reassigning these tasks will lighten your workload.

I also love using student jobs because it helps create independence in the classroom. If you are interested in learning more ways to increase student independence, check out this blog post.

Types of Science Classroom Jobs

The types of jobs you use in your classroom are entirely dependent on your specific needs. I’ve divided the types of jobs into two separate categories.

General Classroom Jobs

These are the type of jobs that you’d find in any classroom. They aren’t science specific. In general, these are tasks that take up a lot of your time as a teacher. But, they don’t NEED to be done by you. Here are some examples:

  • Technology Manager: The technology manager is responsible for all things tech. For example, they can organize and disperse devices, power cords, etc. on an as needed basis. Or, maybe they help students when they run into technology problems. They might be in charge of sign out sheets for equipment.
  • Paper Collection & Distribution: Imagine having all of the paperwork in your classroom taken care of. In addition to passing out and collecting paper, this student can be taught to organize papers for missing students and remember to check to see if work need to be passed back each day.
  • Cleaning Crew: These students make sure that everything is tidy at the end of the class period. This doesn’t mean that they are responsible for cleaning. Instead, have them check floors, sinks, etc. and ask other students to help with the clean up.
  • Entry/Exit Monitor: Is it just me? Or is it super hard to remember who is in the bathroom and who gets to go get water next? Instead, task a student with managing the sign out sheet and allowing students to leave.
  • Materials Manager: Let someone else make sure the pencils are sharpened and turned in at the end of period.
  • Time Keeper: This student manages time and calls out reminders at certain points during the class period. In some cases, they’ll be responsible for letting the class know when it’s time to clean up.

Of course, before assigning jobs, make sure that these roles comply with school-wide expectations. For example, some sites don’t allow students to be in charge of who leaves the classroom.

Science Specific Classroom Jobs

Here are a list of jobs specific for the science classroom:

  • Lab Manager: This student is responsible for maintaining the organization of the lab equipment. Or, ask them to gather materials for upcoming activities.
  • Glassware Cleaner: This student cleans glassware at the end of an activity. Then, I ask them to leave the beakers and such in the drying racks for the next class period.
  • Safety Manager: Ask this student to read over safety instructions before an activity. Or, have them monitor safety protocols by passing out goggles, hair ties or other equipment that is specific to lab safety.
  • Data Manager: I love having shared data tables at the front of the classroom. But, having a shared space for data often gets messy. The data manager is able to make sure that the data is entered correctly.

How to Implement Science Classroom Jobs

Implementing classroom jobs is a practical and engaging way to foster a sense of community and responsibility among students. It’s not just about delegation; it’s about empowering students to take ownership of their learning environment.

Start by identifying the roles that best suit your classroom, whether specific to your subject or more general tasks. Next, clearly define the responsibilities for each job. Then, discuss them with your students so everyone’s on the same page.

In some instances, its helpful to rotate roles regularly, allowing students to try different tasks and develop various skills. Remember, ongoing support and recognition are key; praise them for their efforts and provide guidance as needed. Also, when applicable, use checklists or written instructions for student jobs.

Challenges and Solutions

There extensive benefits to using classroom jobs in your science room. But, like any good plan, there may be challenges. Here’s a closer look at some possible obstacles and ways to overcome them.

Challenges:

  • Resistance from Students: Not all students may be on board initially. Some might feel overwhelmed or reluctant to take on additional tasks.
  • Difficulty in Adapting to Roles: New roles can be confusing. Students might struggle to understand their responsibilities or how to perform them.
  • Lack of Interest: Some jobs might not seem as appealing as others, leading to a lack of motivation.
  • Fair Distribution: Ensuring that all students have an equal chance at different roles can be a balancing act.
  • Absences: Systems often fall apart when students are absent.

Solutions:

First, make sure to provide clear guidelines about each job. Then, offer continuous support until students feel comfortable in their new role. Also, it’s important to include student voices in the decision making process. For example, allow students to choose their jobs.

Lastly, it’s important to have more than one person assigned to each job. This allows for a lighter workload for everyone. And, in the event of an absence, there is already someone available to fill the role.

Join the conversation about science classroom jobs.

Got any tips or experiences to share? We’d love to hear from you! Also, check out these resources for more ideas on rocking those science classroom jobs. Happy teaching! 🧪🔬

Erin Sadler

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