February 4, 2022

Promoting Responsibility With A Classroom Job Board

I recently started a blog post series in which I am unpacking the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) pedagogical model.

I’ve really enjoyed putting it together, but I can’t help but find myself falling down rabbit holes as I learn more and think about effective ways of bringing the model to your teaching.

This blog post is one of those rabbit holes.

The five levels of responsibility, as featured in the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility Model: Respecting Others, Effort & Cooperation, Self-Direction, Caring & Leadership, and Transfer. Bring these posters to your classroom by downloaded them here.

Although the TPSR model is famously known for its five levels of responsibility, fewer teachers are aware of the nine associated teaching strategies that support students’ development of personally and socially responsible behaviours.

These nine teaching strategies include:

  • Modelling respect
  • Setting expectations
  • Opportunities for success
  • Fostering social interactions
  • Assigning tasks
  • Leadership
  • Giving choices and voices
  • Role in assessment
  • Transfer

As I was unpacking each of these for my next blog post in the series, I got thinking about how the teaching strategy of “Assigning Tasks” could be supported with a classroom job board.

Job boards are a pretty common practice in education: the teacher creates a list of jobs or tasks that need to be completed every day, and then students are assigned to each job on either a daily or weekly basis.

The practice helps students take on more responsibility in the classroom, allows them to develop a sense of ownership over their classroom experience, and helps the teacher offload some more menial tasks (e.g. putting chairs on desks at the end of the day, bringing attendance sheets to the front desk, etc).

There are obvious ways that a job board could check the “Assigning Tasks” box on the list of TPSR-supporting teaching strategies, but I got to thinking about how the practice could also support additional strategies as well.

Here’s what I came up with:

Baking TPSR Into Your Job Board

In addition to “Assiging Tasks”, I wondered how a job board could also bake “Fostering Student Interactions“, “Leadership“, and “Transfer” into the students’ experiences.

To achieve this, the job board experience would need to:

  • Have students working in small, mixed groups throughout the year so that they could make new connections and practice their social skills (“Fostering Student Interactions”).
  • Have students teaching each other and building capacity along the way (“Leadership”).
  • Have students reflect on how the responsibilities they took on via the job board could be applied outside of physical education (“Transfer”).

Keeping this in mind, it was time to tackle my next challenge: the fact that job boards in PE can be a pain in the butt to manage.

Making PE Job Boards Work

Job boards can be tricky for PE specialists seeing that we see several classes throughout the day. Rotating through so many classes with little time in between can make keeping track of “who is assigned to what” exhausting.

However, a well-designed board can promote student responsibility, contribute to a positive classroom environment, and alleviate teacher stress. These benefits make it a problem worth solving.

Here are some of the job board-related issues I’ve either experienced or heard other teachers mention:

  • Complicated assignment process: Having to assign student names each lesson is time-consuming. Also, keeping track of who has done what is a headache.
  • Inequitable student opportunities: Due to the limited amount of PE lessons in a year, not all students may get to experience the different jobs on the board.
  • Unclear responsibilities: When students are assigned a job, it may not be clear to them what responsibilities come with it.
  • Time needed to practice roles: Helping students improve their ability to successfully perform a job requires practice and practice takes time (which is limited in PE).
  • Meaningless roles: Some jobs are less interesting to students than others. Because students are less interested, they may not be as willing to perform the job well.
  • Lack of alignment w/ TPSR: TPSR is more than just giving a responsibility to a student. It involves supporting students as they develop personally and socially responsible behaviours.

With those challenges in mind, I got to work designing something that could help solve a lot of these problems.

Making Job Assignments Simple & Equitable

To figure out how to go about assigning jobs in the simplest way, I first thought of how to make this process as complicated as possible (from a PE teacher’s point-of-view).

The nightmare situation I came up with involved having to write out student names at the start of each lesson. Not only would this be a huge time drain, it would also be complicated to keep track of who had previously performed jobs and which students should have a turn next.

Knowing what that complicated version looked like, I decided that the simplest approach would be to only have to write out job assignments once in the morning and then use those same assignments for every class.

How could I achieve this? By assigning numbers to my students.

Learn more about the free Visual Class Roster template here.

One of the most useful resources I create at the start of each school year is a visual class roster poster for each class that I teach. On each class’ poster, you’ll find the class information (e.g. homeroom teacher, grade), and pictures and names for each student. Most importantly, each student is assigned a number from 1 to X (x being the total amount of students in that class).

These numbers get used in a variety of ways in my lessons, including assigning Plickers Assessment Magnets, randomly selecting students, and quickly creating teams.

Because every student I teach knows their number and because these numbers get used in every class, it makes sense to use the numbers to assign jobs. That way, I can create a set of job assignments in the morning and just use that same set in every lesson I teach that day.

As for making sure that every student has an opportunity to experience each of the jobs, I believe that the best way to ensure that this happens is to keep the total number of jobs as minimal as possible. That’s why I’ve decided to only focus on four jobs for my physical education job board:

  • Equipment Experts
  • Safety Squad
  • Awesome Assistants
  • Cheer Captains
Job Expectations & Meaning

One of the teaching strategies that supports TPSR is setting clear expectations for behaviour. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure that each role had a clear (and minimal) set of expectations so that students knew exactly what needed to be done when they found themselves assigned to that job.

Keeping these expectations clear and simple reduces the guesswork involved, decreases the amount of practice time students need to get comfortable with each job, and keeps lessons running smoothly.

For each job on the board, I assigned three clear tasks to be completed within the lesson.

As for meaning, I wanted students to know how the job they were assigned to helped contribute to creating a positive classroom environment. By keeping the focus on giving back to the community, students can begin to develop that sense of social responsibility through the roles they take on in class.

Practice Time & TPSR Features

As I thought about how to create a job board that aligned to TPSR, I wanted to see how the jobs could promote social interaction and leadership (two of the nine TPSR teaching strategies).

I got to thinking about how students could take on jobs as groups and get to work with different groups on different jobs throughout the year (social interaction).

Also, if students were working in groups, could there be a level of peer mentoring baked into the experience (leadership capacity building)?

To meet these two goals I set for myself, I decided to roll with a three-level organizational format. Here’s how it works:

  • Each lesson, three students get assigned to each job.
  • One student is assigned as an “Apprentice“, another assigned as a “Junior Leader“, and the third student is assigned as a “Senior Leader“.
  • All three students focus on getting their job done during the lesson, but their experience will also be affected by the level they are assigned within the job:
  • The “Apprentice” is living their first day on the job. Their focus is to help and learn how to be effective at that role.
  • The “Junior Leader” in living their second day on the job. Their focus is to complete tasks while also mentoring the “Apprentice”.
  • Finally, the “Senior Leader” is living their third day on the job. Their focus is to direct the group, lead by example, and interact with the teacher if need be (e.g. questions/concerns).
  • A student who is assigned to a job for the first time will get to stick with that job for three lessons. This way, they’ll get to experience all three levels: Apprentice, Junior Leader, Senior Leader.
  • This provides every student with opportunity to practice and become comfortable with each role. Also, the leadership progression baked into the three levels will help students develop their capacity as leader.
  • Because students basically shift over one level per lesson, it also makes the teacher’s job assignment task even easier.

The ultimate goal of TPSR is to have students take responsibility for the own development and well-being and transfer the things they learn to other areas in their lives.

When I was selecting the expectations for each job, I wanted to select tasks that – when combined – could help every student become a positive force in our lessons.

But why stop there? Shouldn’t we encourage our students to apply these responsible behaviours outside of PE?

Obviously, that’s the goal. However, it doesn’t just happen on its own: we need to support transfer through intentional, proactive pedagogy.

I would encourage you to take time out of your lessons to have conversations with your class about what each of the roles from the classroom job board could look like outside of PE.

Maybe there’s no basketball to set up when you’re on a camping trip, but you can definitely do your part to minimize the trace you leave in nature.

Maybe there aren’t water spills to clean up in the recess yard, but you could always look out for people who need some help.

There might not be a place for a teacher assistant at hockey practice, but what’s stopping you from teaching a younger player on your team?

And maybe playing the cheerleader role all of the time might seem over the top, but why not take some time to offer some words of support to the people you care about?

Having these kinds of transfer-based conversations can help plant the seed of future responsible behaviours outside of PE. Don’t be afraid to ask students how they have put their responsibility skills into practice at home!

The Classroom Job Board

With all of this work done, I put together the final poster and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!

Again, I believe that a job board can help add to the culture of responsibility in our classrooms. By being mindful of the teaching strategies that support the TPSR model and baking those strategies into the job board system, we can feel confident that the system will be as effective as it is efficient.

Obviously, there are a few hiccups that remain to be tested/figured out:

  • Assignment Schedule: In order to promote as much social interaction as possible, students should work on jobs with different groups throughout the year (as opposed to following the same order and working with the same students year-round). Solving this will require a little extra planning at the start of your job board journey and will depend on the total number of students in your classes. I started to put together an example of a mixed schedule for a 32-student class. Feel free to base yourself off of this to at least get your first couple of months scheduled.
  • First Two Lessons: There will be a little bit of awkwardness during those first two lessons as the Junior Leaders and Senior Leaders will be new in those roles. Just be ready to offer additional support during those lessons.
  • Large Groups: If you are teaching larger groups (e.g. 33+ students), you may encounter some challenges in regard to getting eveyr student to experience the various roles. My suggestion would be to assign six students per role (two Apprentices, two Juniors, two Seniors) as opposed to adding additional roles or changing the level structure. That being said, I’ve never taught more than 32 kids at a time, so you’re the expert here!

If you would like to bring the Classroom Job Board system to your teaching, you can download it from the shop:

Download The Classroom Job Board Poster

While you’re there, feel free to pick up my free Visual Class Roster template and the TPSR Levels of Responsibility Posters as well!

That’s it for now! If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter!

Thanks for reading! Happy Teaching!

Joey Feith
Joey Feith is a physical education teacher based out of Nova Scotia and the founder of
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