2. Sharing responsibility for the classroom

It is important for your pupils to understand that, like their teacher, they have responsibilities within the classroom.

Firstly, you must be a good role model. Show respect for your duties: be punctual; plan and attend lessons; mark homework etc. If you do not fulfil your responsibilities, you cannot expect the pupils to do so.

Secondly, involve them in maintaining standards in the classroom. This includes them:

  • cleaning the chalkboard;
  • keeping the classroom clean and tidy;
  • looking after books and furniture, and so on.

If they look after the classroom themselves, they will start to take pride in it.

Thirdly, involve them in organising their own learning through the activities that you give them. This includes them:

  • demonstrating the difference between work time and play time;
  • organising group work and study sessions;
  • checking each other’s work, and so on.

The usual way to start doing this is by appointing pupils as monitors and group leaders, responsible for looking after different tasks. But they also need to understand what is needed for each task.

For more information see Resource 2: Using monitors.

Case Study 2: Skills and responsibilities in the classroom

Mr Sikota is a senior teacher with a large multigrade class. He has a group of monitors from the top grades who do small tasks around the classroom and also help the younger pupils. The monitors check their groups are ready at the beginning of each lesson, they look after the textbooks and they clean the chalkboard each day. They are very useful indeed.

On Friday, the class clean-up day, Mr Sikota asks his monitors to work with their groups from the lower grades to list which areas need action. Each group makes one suggestion, which is written on the board.

Each group volunteers to take one activity and, supervised by the monitor, work on it each Friday break time until the end of term.

At the end of the week, each group explains to the class what they have done and where they have put things. They also give the class suggestions for next week to make the tasks easier or help solve problems.

At the end of term, they review each group’s progress and vote as a class for the best achievement.

Activity 2: Appointing monitors

Plan how you will introduce monitors to help in class.

  • Introduce the idea of monitors to the whole class. Explain how a system of monitors will work, and how it will benefit everyone.
  • With your class, discuss and write a list of all the classroom tasks that need to be done at the beginning, middle and end of each day.
  • Identify which tasks have to be done by you, and which could be done by the pupils.
  • As a class, decide how many monitors are needed and then think of a way to select the monitors. You could change monitors every week so that everyone gets a turn and develops responsibility for others.
  • Appoint the first set of monitors and explain their tasks. At the end of the first week, review their work with them and with the class.
  • Ask them to suggest new tasks they could do.

Once the monitor system has been running for a little while, take some time to think about how it is working:

What impact does having monitors have on the behaviour and work of your class?

Do the pupils like the system?

Does it need to be reviewed – and perhaps modified – by the class?

3.Working in groups to agree classroom rules