Chores…or being more responsiball!

With all the focus on the academic curriculum today, I salute the teachers that continue to assign and expect students to do simple classroom chores. Dr. Robert Brooks did research on school memories and found that most of our school memories are not about whether we got an A or a B on a test, but rather about the service duties we did in the classroom. Being a line leader, watering plants, taking a note to the office to name just a few give students a sense of responsibility, a task that needs to be initiated, sustained and completed. I can’t help but wonder if more services duties were available throughout a school day, if students attitude and activity level would improve. Sometimes to reach my toughest students I ask them if they will help me with a problem such as fixing a toy, carrying items etc. Rarely am I turned down, and even the most oppositional child will rise to the occasion to help this old lady. I worked with a teacher once that had the chores last 2 weeks. She believed that 2 students should be assigned to the same chore, share the work, materials and responsibility. Kids loved it because they had a buddy to share with (don’t you remember enjoying some time with a classmate that was less structured? I personally would always volunteer to clap the erasers if Colleen was the other student! She and I would chat away as we worked in the yellow chalk dust outside the classroom window. One morning when I was in the classroom prior to school starting the phone rang, the teacher took the call, hung up and laughingly said “That was Sarah’s mother, Sarah is going to be out with the chicken pox this week and wanted her mom to call so Katy knows she’ll have to water the plants alone for the week”. As I remember it, I still am amazed that a six or seven-year old would be that committed to her job and her classmate. Sometimes I use chores as part of my interventions, for movement breaks, executive skill practice and fine motor enhancement. So if you are a teacher already doing chores, keep it up…it builds character for your youngsters and if you are not, consider revisiting this idea to engage, encourage and create a sense of  service duties for your classroom community. As I was looking through some writing samples today (they were persuasion letters written by 1st graders), there was one child trying to convince her parents to get a dog. She talked about walking it, feeding it, playing with it and brushing it. There was one sentence that hit my funny bone. The sentence summarized the title of this blog…”I want to be more responsiball”. And isn’t that one of the most important traits that a student needs to succeed?