My main goal was to give students a sense of ownership in the daily routines of our class. I feel that when students are part of the classroom management process, their investment in class goes up. It also frees me as a teacher to focus on other more important things. It requires a release of power from the teacher to the students, but it makes such a positive difference in student engagement.
In the fall, my students applied for various jobs ranging from Bank Tellers and Communication Assistants to Environmentalists and Librarians. Their applications had to be detailed and highlight why I should hire them for each of the three jobs they had selected, a great exercise in persuasive writing!
After going through all of the responses, I assigned jobs and gave students a "job offer" to sign. Like an employment contract, it listed their job title, job description, salary, and training time. Most students were satisfied with their assignment, but for those that weren't they knew they would have a chance to apply for new jobs in January.
Running this program has given me a lot of insight into my students' personalities and strengths. Students who sometimes struggle academically have found a way to show their strengths as technology assistants helping their classmates, while others take pride in have special responsibilities, like composing tweets for our class Twitter account, organizing the the class library, or inventorying items for the class store.
I'm particularly excited by two new jobs I've added for the second half of the year, the Class Book Whisperer and Google Jockeys. Here are the job descriptions:
Surfs the Internet for terms, ideas, or web sites mentioned by the teacher or related to the topic at hand. Shares information found in class orally and/or by posting in Schoology. Must be responsible and have good listening skills.
Shares book recommendations weekly with the class and helps other students find books they might enjoy.
Running a classroom economy has been a learning experience this year, but one that has definitely been worthwhile. It adds a taste of real world learning and has placed the responsibility for many interactions with the students. "Check your bank accounts and figure out your budget for spending at the store" or "Talk to a tech assistant if you need help with that." In a classroom economy, students know they have to be responsible and, ultimately, are able to feel like part of a team.