I'm linking up with Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots to give a peek into setting up or classroom expectations.
To help us set ourselves up for success we write hopes and dreams and create our classroom rules. This process is driven by the students and guided by myself. This was the third time I've done this now, and each time when it's done, I hear of a different way to do it to make it easier. It wasn't the smoothest process, but it was a learning one (for both me and the students).
We started by writing our hopes and dreams. We brainstormed different specific topics for reading, writing, math, and social instances. They chose one and wrote out their hope and dream. The sentence stems I used for this first hope and dream were:
"My hope and dream for 3rd grade is __________. To reach my hope and dream, I will _____________." When we revisit them in January, we'll add more components to it. But I found this was difficult enough for my kiddos. They then wrote in their best handwriting on a little pennant, and I attached them to a piece of ribbon. They are now hung by our curtain as a reminder of our goals this year.
Once we have our hopes and dreams, we discuss that in order for us to reach these, we need to establish some rules. We split rule making up over 3 days.
Day 1- we brainstorm any and all rules we think we could have. We usually end up with close to 30.
Day 2- we try to categorize and combine the rules. Some are very similar so we either erase one or combine them. I tried this year to sort the rules by our school CARES (cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self control). This worked, but it wasn't the smoothest.
Day 3- we looked at each of the CARES and the rules we selected and tried to come up with 1 rule, forcing us to synthesis our current ideas. This is hard for them (some of them were easier than others because the rules were practically identical), but some students managed to come up with some good overall rules and shared them with the class.
Students then worked in their groups to write out 1 of the rules. We posted them on our classroom community board and then the following day we signed them into 'law.' Each person signed their name agreeing to follow them.
Now we discussed what happens if you should break a classroom rule. We discussed 'logical consequences' and I showed them a triangle to help remind them. Our logical consequences include:
1. You break it, you fix it (including materials or peoples feelings- you break it, you need to fix it)
2. Loss of privilege
3. Take a break (see my post about it here)
Finally, I put one more safety net into place: our peace rug.
Really its just back in our library because it's removed from our table groups and whole group meeting area. I modeled with a students the parts to a peace rug conference. This is great for when kids are tattling on each other. It forces them to discuss the issue with the person and not have an adult intervene. I modeled appropriate language and listening skills and we brainstormed different situations that might require a peace rug. Lastly, I told them that sometimes I might send people back there to resolve the issue, or you may ask someone to go to the peace rug to share your feelings and make a plan.
That was a super long post! However, now that we have all this in place and the fact that the students created most of it, we are ready to dive into our content for the year. More on that in a later post!
The weather is beautiful here in MN today. I hope it is where you are also!