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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Four R’s…


I was in the local Costco yesterday with discount coupon book in hand looking for the $2.00 off two-pack of Reynolds Wrap Quality Aluminum Foil when I heard someone call out “Hi, Mr. Homework!!” It’s still Spring Break so I wasn’t expecting to interact with any school kids until next week.

Momentarily stunned, I turned and looked at a happy cheerful smile of the typical “generic” 6th grader. Now I sub in two different school districts, seven grade levels, an average of three classrooms at each grade level and an average of thirty kids per class so of course I didn’t recognize her and had to subject myself to confessing as much.

She told me the school (nope, not yet). The class (getting warmer…). Her teacher's name Mr. Fuji --- (BINGO!).

Me: “Now I remember your class. It’s the class with all the jobs, right?”
Her: “…and the bet” she added helpfully.

I DID remember this class and their teacher Mr. Fuji . I wrote some notes about that class that I had meant to use in a post about this amazing teacher and his classroom concept but hadn’t yet gotten around to doing it.

I first met Mr. Fuji in the teachers lounge at lunch a week before the assignment. He mentioned that he needed a sub and wanted to know if I was available. Before accepting, I jokingly asked if he had a “good class”. Mr. Fuji bet me that they would be on their best behavior or he would give me $100 if they got anything less than a good report from me. Evidentially, he had warned his class about the $100 bet and he didn’t want to pay up.

Now that’s a confident teacher.

On morning of the assignment, it only took me a few minutes to go over the lesson plan and materials. Mr. Fuji is super organized and detailed.

Fifteen minutes before class there was a knock and and a head peeking around the door.
“Can I come in to do desk checking? It’s my job!”

Now, I have been in lots of classes at all levels where the kids have “jobs”. Line leader, paper passer, homework checker, phone secretary are the familiar kid type jobs that I recognize. “Desk Checker” (DC) was a new one for me and prompted the following dialog:

Me: Just what does a desk checker do?
DC: I check each desk to make sure the books are neat, no junk on the floor and no garbage on the top.

Me: …and if you find something wrong?
DC: They get a fine of $10FB (Fuji Bucks) which I split with Mr. Fuji

After a few more minutes of Q/A with Mr. DC, I discovered that Mr. Fuji rents the school desks to the students for $20FB/mo.

Evidentially, in addition to the standard Three R’s of education, Mr. Fuji adds a dose of a fourth ‘R’ as in “Real Life”.

Throughout the rest of the day, I was able to delve deeper into how intricately this classroom society operates.

There are two class accountants that maintain student checking accounts for each kid on the teacher’s computer. The kids all have homemade wallets where they carry their spare $FB spending money and ALL the kids have one or more jobs to pay their desk rent.

Mr. Fuji requires the kids submit written job applications to the class CEO to apply for any one or more of 41 designated classroom jobs.

Job pay scales differ according to difficulty, responsibility and time. Some jobs, like “desk checker” are on a commission basis. Commissioned income is split 50/50 with Mr. Fuji .

There are no tenured jobs (sorry teachers) and the CEO can hire/fire the employees for bad job performance or misuse of job authority. This keeps the “Desk Checker” from padding his take with excessive fines.

Mr. Fuji can hire/fire the CEO if abuse of power or favoritism becomes a problem.

In addition to “desk rent”, FBucks are used bathroom breaks, water breaks, new pencils and other small classroom supplies.

FBucks can also be used for daily rent one of four cushy, swivel chairs at $5FB/day, buy an empty spare desk for $200FB as an alternate personal desk or rent it out to other kids at $20FB/mo.

A couple of times during the year, Mr. Fuji will hold a swap meet where the kids can buy, sell or trade their personal stuff from home with their parent’s permission and an end of year party where remaining $FB can be used for food and drink.

(Mr. Fuji told me that he started requiring “parent notes” for all items after an incident where one kid brought his Dad’s CD collection to a swap meet without asking…)

Class Job List and weekly pay rate (C is commission)

Zoo Keeper


Waste Management


Zoo Keeper Asst.




Newspaper Editor








AR Chart Monitor






Paper Distributors


Bench Monitor






Ball Monitor


Door Monitor


Tardy Monitor


Grade Book




Homework Checker


Floor Checker




Addenda Checker


Accountant Asst


Student of the Week




Personal Reminder


Dictionary Monitor


DOL Monitor


A/C Monitor




Computer Monitor


Art Bin Monitor




HW Board


Desk Checker




Personal Asst


Kinder Bus Monitor


Classroom Nurse


My final query of the day asked the ultimate “What if?” question.

Me: What if someone doesn’t have enough to pay their desk rent?
Class: They can borrow from a friend or the bank.

Me: What if someone doesn’t want to do a job and refuses to pay rent?
Class: Then they are on “welfare” and we all have to chip in and pay the rent for them.

(This question evidentially hit a sore point with the system as following comments got louder)

Class: It’s not fair! My dad doesn’t have to pay for someone else’s welfare from his job.
Me: Oh, no? What do you think some of the State and Federal income taxes do?

Class dismissed!...
P.S. Mr. Fuji got to keep his $100


rattln along said...

This sounds intriguing. I would love to hear more about the system. Is there a way to communicate directly?

KauaiMark said...

My email address is in the blogger "About Me" profile.

Zoemonster said...

Very interesting. I ran a similar system. Worked well. Only.. organization being my weakest skill, it wasn't quite this intricate.. but it was.. only not on paper:)

NYC Educator said...

I saw a system like this on a TV show somewhere. It sounds very interesting. As a high school teacher who travels from trailer to trailer, and who sees kids for only one or two periods a day, it wouldn't be viable for me.

Sounds great, though.

The MAN Fan Club said...

Would you have gotten paid in Fuji bucks? Interesting.

KauaiMark said...


Good point. As it was I embezzled a few FBucks as rewards for students in class.

I DID confess to the crime and Mr. F did pardon me. ;)


Anonymous said...

I love that in Mr. Fuji's world, the highest-paying job is Newspaper Editor - twice the salary of the CEO!

Ahh, that it were in the real world

Law and Order Teacher said...

I would pay the accountants/personal assistants much more. They could keep me from messing up the numbers. I could see myself having to be corrected by the students. Kind of like the government, huh?