Have you struggled with classroom management or making each child feel special? One element I use is having a student helper for each class. The first thing students ask as they line up at my door is, “Who’s the helper?” with a subsequent big smile on the child whose name is called. They are now my personal assistant with a front row seat in the room! They get to come in the room and start the music on the iPod.
To create a nonpartisan system, I use my seating chart to pick my helper. I start with spot #1 and go down one spot each class, marking it down on the seating chart. If you use my interactive seating chart, there is a drop down box for recording the helper as you reprint your seating chart in the middle of the year. Sometimes students get up to 3 times to be helper in the year so there is H, H2, and H3 to record it.
After the helper starts the music on the iPod, he or she watches to see if the students come in quietly (and listening and moving appropriately to the music.) If they do, the helper gives the class their first point. In the past, I would draw a fish bowl on the board for students to draw in tally marks. As seasons and holidays came around, sometimes I would attempt to draw a different object like a pumpkin or heart. But most of my classes come back to back, and there is no time to draw another fish bowl if the helper was quite artistic with the points. At one point I thought it would be very helpful to have a magnetic cutout for the points. After a year of pondering how this would work, I figured it out when I received my Cricut Maker. Now I have a magnetic cutout for each month and there is no redrawing between classes. In fact, I let the next helper erase the previous points without worrying that they’ll erase too much.
I also have a Helper sit spot. It is right smack in the middle of the first row. Most students love to be right in front of me. If a really shy student doesn’t want to sit there, I don’t force them. But if they do, it reminds me who the helper is (I have 10 classes a day!) and it’s easy for them to pop up to put up points.
A helper’s job varies depending on the lesson. If it’s game day, they get to go first. If I’m demonstrating something with a partner, I use the helper. Other duties include turning off and on the lights for video clips, distributing or collecting materials or the most favorite – playing the contrabass bars first. Of course, this all depends on the lesson. Once in a blue moon I will have a lesson where the helper really didn’t get to do much so I might let them be the helper next time.
At the end of the lesson, the helper puts up a sticker on the class chart if the class earned their points. Since my room is heavily decorated with dragons, I have toy dragons and the helper can choose one to play with for about 10 seconds.
Then he or she receives a sticker or a Jagbrag (our school currency). I used to always let them pick a sticker but it would always fall off in the hallway or in the next classroom they went to. So I bought larger dragon stickers this year, and they only get one the first time they are helper and a Jagbrag the subsequent times.
Students absolutely love being helper and really look forward to it. Most understand that I go row by row but others get a little impatient stating they haven’t been helper yet. I guess to them being helper 8 weeks ago feels like never to them. Anytime a difficult student has his or her turn being helper, about 95% of the time I have no trouble with them that class! And it’s always special when a student gets to be helper on their birthday. It’s a nice coincidence!
I will always use a helper in my class and it’s minimal setup. You wouldn’t even have to have a class chart and keep points although my students love to do it. I feel that the points help keep the class focused and wanting to earn their sticker. Ten stickers earn the twice-a-week classes game time and they all want game time!
I hope you give this a try and make each child feel very special, one class at a time. And your classes will want to give you their best to earn that game time! It’s definitely a win-win.