How to Turn Your Students Into Neat Freaks

When I was a kid, my sister used to vacuum her room in such a way that she would know if I had been in there simply by looking at the carpet. In her eyes, I was a complete mess while she was the family’s steadfast “neat freak.” Once college rolled around, I quickly learned that I either needed to start being organized or risk misplacing much of my stuff. Thus, my days of cleanliness and order began.

Unfortunately, those two characteristics are not always synonymous with my day job. There are moments in those last few minutes of class where I look around my room and observe an epic disaster of clay and paint. With no passing period to collect my sanity nor the stray scraps of paper scattered throughout my room, I was in need of help. I created several leadership jobs to help bring some order and cleanliness back to the art room.

 

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How Leadership Jobs Work

When creating leadership jobs in your room, think about the jobs that need to be done every class period: What are those jobs? How many are there? Which are the most important? I have six tables in my classroom with four students at each table. So, it makes sense for me to have six leadership jobs that rotate on a weekly basis. Each table is responsible for completing the assigned job either throughout class or during clean up.

 

How to Assign Jobs

My first task for creating leadership jobs was figuring out how to let the students know what their assigned jobs were. After trying out several different ways of assigning jobs, I finally landed on one that seemed to flow quite smoothly. Each table is assigned a color. The color never changes, only the job for the week. Students know what their table color is by either looking at the festive bunting I hung above each table or looking at the labels on their table tubs. I printed out and laminated cards for each of the six colors as well as for each of the jobs. They are placed on my front board with magnets so I can easily move the job assignment each week.

 
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How to Choose the Jobs

I’ve gone through many different job titles and job descriptions since I started teaching. Some of the job titles have been inspired by other art education bloggers and some are my own. Just keep in mind what jobs you want to see accomplished at the end of every class. Hopefully the list below can help spark some ideas for the jobs you want to accomplish in your room.

 

The Jobs

 

Environmentalists

Responsible for cleaning the art room floor so it sparkles. The students may use a dustpan and broom or their hands to accomplish the task. Environmentalists are also responsible for getting recyclable materials to the recycling bin.

Distributors

Responsible for passing out any and all supplies to all class members.

Collectors

Responsible for collecting any and all supplies and projects at the end of the class and placing them in the appropriate table folders.

Quiet Keepers

Responsible for keeping classroom noise at an acceptable level throughout class.

Polishers

Responsible for scrubbing the tables with rags at the end of class.

Direction Gurus

Responsible for listening to the directions throughout class. Students who missed a direction can find a direction guru to help them get back on track instead of asking the teacher.

 

Need more jobs? Try out one of these.

 

Table Tub Leaders

Responsible for organizing table tubs.

Sharpeners

Responsible for sharpening dull pencils.

Apron Leaders

Responsible for sorting, organizing, and/or folding aprons and paint shirts.

Sink Scrubbers

Responsible for washing any materials and supplies that get dirty throughout class.

Glue Bottle Busser

Responsible for wiping off and closing all glue bottles.

Disinfectors

Responsible for scrubbing down high traffic areas (handles, doorknobs, pencil sharpeners, etc.) with disinfectant wipes.

Paper Sorters

Responsible for sorting leftover paper scraps into the correct colored bins.

 
 

Do you have a creative job we missed? Share below!

Do you have students help you clean? Tell us about it.

 
 
 

Jennifer Borel

Jennifer is an middle school art teacher in Kansas who is passionate about creating an organized, well-managed environment where students feel comfortable to learn and explore.

Related

  • Courtenay

    I used table jobs also in my k-5 classroom. Best thing I ever did :) one difference I had was that every table had four students. Their places were marked with a color that coordinated with a table job. So each table had a Floor job (clean up floor), Folder (put everyone’s artwork in the designated folder), Table (clean table tops), and Supplies (get and return all supplies) that they completed for their area only. This worked wonderfully even for my Kinders who’s hands are small and can’t carry many things.

    • I have done it that way as well before I switched to whole tables working on one job. Either way can work well!

  • Mr. Post

    I have my jobs on a cake circle I purchased at Michaels. Magnets hold it to the dry erase board. The jobs are held onto the cake circle by velcro so I can change them out if I need to. I use a circle so I can simply spin the job chart 1/4 rotation to the right and each kid gets a new job. See the attached pic.

    • Fabulous! Love the doggie one!

    • Michelle Bianco Ekross

      In Girl Scouts this is called a Kaper Chart, used while camping, and we have been doing this for decades. This coming year will be my 2nd year with my own art room, and I will definitely be doing it this way, rather than just having a “Table of the Week.” What a DUH moment!!! Thanks for the reminder! I will just use a cardboard circle with a paper fastener on a piece of posterboard.

  • Jessica Blumer

    I love the idea of Direction Gurus! Clever.

  • ERICSDOTTER

    DIRECTION GURUS JUST TOOOOOO AWESOME!
    Thank U my class room will never be the same

  • Rebecca Viers

    I have each seat with number,one of four different colors. White(black numeber) pass out supplies , green- cleaners, red-artwork, blue- water/sink… Students pick their own seat (which haven’t changed in 4 years) I don’t change the jobs or seats unless behavior are unacceptable. I have the jobs framed above the white board so there is no confusion about who is responsible for what. It is working out great and students make sure everybody is doing their job.

  • Annmarie

    In our school, the classroom teachers number each student alphabetically. I take advantage of this (and integrate math!) by calling jobs for highest, second highest, second lowest, and lowest numbers. There are 3-5 kids per table, and in a normal class period, each child gets at least one job. When a child at a table is absent, students have to refigure their number order, but have learned to do it very quickly. I have to say, I really like the notion of table jobs, as outlined above, though, and may try that next year for something different! No more “you never called highest number” complaints!!

  • Lisa

    I do this too but instead of a table having a color, each chair has a color. My master “Happy Helper” list is on the board and I have them color squares attached with velcro so I can rotate them each week. It is a great way to teach responsibility to ALL of the students because I find some always want to help and others never want to help. One additional job I have is that of Portfolio Person. That job entails getting the portfolios off the class shelf and passing them out then collecting them and putting them back neatly. The portfolios have been taped with colored masking tape to identify which table they go to. This is the first year I have used my Happy Helper assignments and it is working great!

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