I divide my 5th and 6th grade classes into 4 teams or squads (about 8 students per team). I assign each team a captain. I have found this to be helpful in so many ways. I live in a very active sports-oriented community. By 5th grade many of my students have been playing organized sports for years and are very skilled. Some of these highly skilled students can be a behavior problem for me. They can be cocky, intimidating to others, like to show-off or goof off, etc. This is not always the case, but it is a common management problem I have faced. Giving some of these kids an important job makes a world of difference. I spend a bit of time at the first of the year talking about the importance of teamwork and what I will see a good team doing. I talk about how important the captain is and how much extra work I give them and how I need their help. The following week, I divided up my groups and announce the captains. It literally changes how these kids act and work in class. They become wonderful leaders! The job focuses them on helping other students and helping their team succeed.
Some of the things I have my captains do:
Teach skills: I will demonstrate a new skill and then have each team shadow their captain a certain number of times to practice. Or, have the captain work with their team to practice something we are learning.
Score keep: If we are playing a game, I give the captain a notebook and have him/her keep score.
Timers: For an activity that requires a timer, I will give my captain a timer and have him/her be in charge of keeping time for their team.
Clean-up: I leave a note in their notebooks about what their teams’ clean-up job is. They pass the info onto their team and lead the clean-up.
Assigning others: If it seems as if the captain is doing too much, I just ask him/her to give the job to someone else. “choose someone on your team who has been working hard and have them be in charge of the timer”
I rotate captains about every 2 months so that many get a chance during the year to have the job. My students will work hard for the honor of being the captain. I don’t always just choose skilled students, but look for those that can lead and are good team players.
Other class jobs are warm-up leaders, and skill-specific captains.
My students have really responded to this system. I love to see the leadership emerge!