Developing Responsibility, Leadership and Empowerment in Children through Classroom Jobs, by Kari Strandstra
In Hummingbird Haven Kindergarten, we go through a ritual each week of choosing classroom jobs. These jobs are a responsibility and title that we have for the week. In the beginning of the year we brainstormed duties and helper titles that were needed in the classroom to keep us all feeling loved and taken care of and also what would help us in the daily interactions in our classroom. Over time, the children came up with new jobs according to the developing needs of our classroom and community.
We started with some basic jobs, like line leader, light person, calendar person, etc. The children have gotten very creative with the jobs and have created an insect protector, bucket-filler helper, meditation leader, sweeper leader, bell person, positive words helper, inside voices reminder, thumbs -up clean-up person, etc. Each week, the list of jobs is different and if the children can explain why the job is needed, we add it to the list and that becomes their job.
The children love having these jobs and in fact, many times will ask to have two or three jobs for the week. I love their desire for more leadership and responsibility! If there is a problem in the classroom, the children go to the helper of that area. If someone’s feelings are hurt, they will go to the bucket-filler helper. It is so great to watch the helper talk both students through their feelings and help come up with a mutually satisfying resolution.
What is so different about our list of jobs is that the students get freedom to choose their title. In that process, they are using critical thinking and practical life skills to figure out how to meet the needs of all of the students in the classroom. Plus, they are thinking about how their own particular skills can be of help. They are being very innovative and proactive in creating new ideas that can help the whole group.
What I notice is that the children shine with these responsibilities and leadership. They feel empowered. The students feel important, needed and know they are an integral part of our entire day. It is wonderful to see children going to peers for help and watching them all work things out together. As they problem solve together, their positive communication skills deepen. They learn to feel like a community with everyone helping and doing their part, knowing that they are all helping to make our classroom a positive, loving and safe place to be. Through these classroom jobs, the children are learning to be caring, active community citizens who care what goes on in the world and do their part to help. They know that what they do in this world is hugely important and that they can make a difference!