Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Classroom Committees

This year, with my move to sixth grade, I've been having so much fun with classroom committees! They are a great way to engage kids in managing important classroom routines and processes. With committees, students take charge of various parts of the classroom.

What are committees?

A committee is a group of students focused on doing a job in the classroom. At the start of the year, my classroom had five committees: Library, Art, Science, Birthday, and Pencil. The library committee worked to organize our classroom library and set up book displays, the art committee made classroom art displays and contests, the science committee organized and displayed science materials, the birthday committee made a class birthday display, and the pencil committee organized classroom pencils.

In the second quarter, we changed committees, and I made a few changes. Students requested an organizing committee instead of a pencil committee, and the birthday committee had completed their task of creating a classroom birthday display. We added a wildlife committee instead, with the job of taking care of our fish tanks and filling the feeders.

It's neat to see how committees evolve and change. The library committee started the year with one process for signing out books, but refined the process over a course of weeks. The art committee ran an art contest in the first month of school, but has now changed their focus to work with maintaining and organizing art supplies.

When do committees meet?

We have regular committee meetings once each six-day cycle, on a day when I have my homeroom for an extended period of time due to the schedule. Students request committee meeting time! I also give committees new tasks when needed--for instance, today members of the science committee organized our graduated cylinders.

What happens when committees don't do their jobs?

This is what happens in real life, isn't it? Committees have trouble functioning, some groups don't follow through, and kids have disagreements. We work through it all! Sometimes I make quick decisions and act as arbiter, but more often I just listen and ask questions. Often in the answering of questions kids start to see solutions on their own.

Committees are a great way to engage students in the daily running of the classroom. How do they work in your classroom?

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