Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Helping Hands

When I was younger, I always wanted to have a job in the classroom - to be able to help in some way. But I don’t think I ever realized how important it was to every child - I just chalked it up to the fact that I wanted to be a teacher and as a child, being the teacher’s helper was as close as I could get. Now I don’t know if it is the case in every early childhood classroom, but every single one of my students needs a job every single day. When I started out the school year, I thought that I had cleverly come up with a great system - we had 8 jobs, which meant that every student would get a job every other day  - they only had to wait ONE day as opposed to waiting a week or two like I remembered having to wait. 
Yes, I thought I was doing a great thing. So I didn’t understand when I was met with whines and complaints that it wasn’t fair that someone didn’t have a job on a given day. “But you had one yesterday and you will have one tomorrow” was not a good enough answer”. 
It took me some time to think of the last extra jobs - coming up with 17 is kind of tough. But it was SO worth it. Every day, the children check in to class, and then the very next thing that they do is check the job board to see what their job is - and what everyone else’s is. They want to know who is doing what during the day. And they are proud to do their job. It doesn’t even matter that to adults, some jobs are much more appealing than others (I would way rather be the story helper than the table cleaner or sweeper). To the kids, every single job is important and needs to get done. 
The kids take ownership of their classroom - it’s theirs - and they need to keep it running smoothly. Sometimes I forget; I don’t always remember that I made a job for chairs to be pushed in or for the lights to be turned off at rest time, but they remind me of their jobs and then go off to do them. If only the whole world could work like my students - each one checking in with their responsibilities, being excited to do it, holding others accountable for their jobs, looking forward to their job the next day. What a beautiful society we have going on in pre-k. 

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