Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The GOLDEN Rule & Personal Commitments

As part of using Responsive Classroom, I like to come up with a set of classroom rules that the students and I essentially create together. However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that by fifth grade, students already know what the rules are for school (following them is a whole other story!). I wanted to empower my class with the idea that they are EXPERT students; they have been in school for more than half their lives and know what is expected as far as behavior. They could teach Kindergartners how to be students! Don't talk while someone else is talking. Treat your materials with care and respect. Walk in the classroom, don't run. And more!

So today, when I gathered their lists of rules they came up a couple of weeks ago, I lead our conversation with the idea that even though we know these rules and agree they don't need to be listed one by one in our classroom, we may still need a reminder somewhere in the room. But how could we consolidate the list? When continuing to discuss this question, it was decided that all of the rules really can fall under one rule, the GOLDEN rule!

I presented the beautiful, glittery-gold poster I made to my class (it's like I can read their minds!)\ They loved it!!

While agreeing that this rule should be followed by everyone, I told my students that I also want them to make a personal commitment to the rule. I am hoping that this idea will help hold them accountable for their actions.

I asked: What can you bring to the classroom in order to personally commit yourself to this rule? What is something that you are able to contribute that is unique to the rest of us? How can you commit yourself to this rule in a way that helps make our classroom function in an even more successful way? 

I shared with my students my example of a letter I wrote:

Here are examples of what some students wrote:

This student is making the commitment to help his classmates if I am busy helping others!

This student wants to advocate for her classmates if she sees them being treated unfairly!

This students wants to answer others' questions because she realized that already, her classmates often come to her for help!

I think this is a great way to start the year off right with rules. I am thinking about doing this every year! We shall see how it goes! How do you teach rules? 

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