The Student-Sufficient Classroom

Lately I've been toying around with the idea of a "student-sufficient classroom". I feel like my goal in the classroom is for students to feel ownership over the room, their work, their relationships, etc. We want our students to feel invested in their learning, and I don't think that is possible when students feel like visitors in the teacher's classroom.

Has anyone else thought about this? I always made a point to say "our room" instead of "my room", because even though my name was on the door, it was "our room" for that year. In my ideal classroom, students feel at home enough to do what they need to do without having to ask the teacher first. Obviously this means spending a lot of time at the beginning of the year setting expectations. In my perfect world, students would be able to perform and thrive in an atmosphere where they feel in control. A little bonus to having this type of classroom is that the teacher does not have to deal with getting asked five million questions each day. He or she might only be asked two million questions each day. :)

Here are a few things I did that made my classroom more "student-sufficient".

1) The students knew where all the supplies were in the room, and they were instructed to go get more whenever their group needed them. Yes, our supplies depleted faster this way, but I didn't have 10 children coming up to me each day saying,"We are out of glue sticks again!"

2) When students were tardy or had an excuse, they came in the room and silently placed their slip of paper into a tray at the back of the room. No longer did students have to come up while I was teaching to hand me their tardy slip. Also, I didn't end up with random pieces of paper on my desk!

3) I had student "managers" every week who were responsible for the lunch count, washing tables at lunch, passing back papers, etc. Their names were written on spiral bound notecards (one for boys and one for girls) and a student just flipped the cards over every Friday, so that we knew who the next week's managers were. I never had to think about who was supposed to be doing what all year!

4) Each student had a mailbox in the back of the room. Whenever I had graded papers, I would just put them in a tray in front of the mailboxes. The managers would stuff the graded papers into mailboxes and students would pick up their papers before they left for the day. No stuffing folders or passing back papers!

5) The students were responsible for the lunch count system. I got the pans and magnets from Dollar Tree. When students entered the room, they would move their magnets to their lunch choice. If a student's magnet was left on "absent", I would know they weren't there that day. The managers moved all the magnets back to "absent" at the end of the day. I think this idea was floating around Pinterest at one point, and if anyone knows who came up with this idea, let me know because I'd love to give them credit!

I know these are not revolutionary ideas, but they helped me tremendously in my classroom. What are some things that you do to make your classroom more "student-sufficient"?



  1. Linda - I completely agree with you! This is going to be a major priority for me this year moving to a self-contained elementary classroom. I'm going to have jobs for students and have as much as possible in their control.

    Mrs. Allen’s 5th Grade Files

  2. I L-O-V-E the flip card managers idea! I think I'm stealing this!


  3. Corrina- I love your blog! I'm not sure how I haven't seen it until now. I'm about to head over there and spend some time right now. Thanks for stopping by!

    Dallas- Steal away! I'm sure I stole the idea from someone else. I have to get better about pinning ideas when I see them so that I can give people credit for their ideas!

  4. I think making the small pronoun shift from "my" to "our" makes a huge difference in the way that students perceive their place in the classroom. It becomes a learning community where everyone's voice is valued and each individual has an important role to play in order for everyone to be successful.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Julie D. Ramsay

  5. Great point Julie! I think we tend to take better care of things when they are "ours" instead of someone else's. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Linda,
    As a first year teacher in Alaska, I have to say that these ideas have given me the tools to run a self-sufficient classroom that I had hoped for. Thank you and I look forward to reading your future posts!

  7. I love your weekly manager system! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Creating jobs and responsibilities for students in the classroom is an important part of the classroom community. Not only do the jobs give students a sense of responsibility, but they also feel a sense of ownership with the classroom. They also look forward to the jobs. By taking the time at the beginning of the year to set up expectations and responsibilities it helps the flow of our day and frees me up to interact more with the students on a personal level.