Here we were on Friday, Day Two, of 4th grade, and the words: "Classroom Expectations" loomed on the schedule. Ugh... As a teacher, I feel like I am supposed to enjoy this topic, to ensure that "control" and appropriate behavior happens in my classroom and around the school campus. Although I do believe in the importance of clear expectations, I feel uncomfortable with the traditional notion of classroom management as a way to "control behavior." I want my students to make wise choices, learn when they make "less than wise" choices, and understand the connections between their actions and their learning. Not always an easy feat in 4th grade, yet their wisdom, once again, was about to blow me away.
As I asked my students what "classroom expectations" means, a student crinkled up her face and sheepishly answered, "The rules?" Perfect, I thought! They used the "r" word so I won't have to. I asked my students what happens inside of them when they hear the word, "rules," and although no one spoke, many frowned, squirmed, and let me know that it was not a positive connotation. I wrote the word on the board and wrapped a circle around it, and ended with a big red slash. "Don't get me wrong," I said, jokingly, "This does not mean that we can run around school acting all crazy!"Laughs erupted along with a bit of craziness prompted by my silly statement. I paused a moment for them to transform back to students. We decided that we would use, "expectations," and we would agree upon behaviors that would help us work together and learn best in the classroom.
Now, for the fun! Students met in small groups, working for ten minutes to positively phrase all of the expectations they could think of. It can be tough for them to break the "Don't.. " and the, "No..." statements, but they used positive statements for the most part. The photos speak for themselves: students are wise! They know exactly how to run a classroom.
|I love the focus on kindness from this group!|
|I love that they said, "Listen to the person who is presenting" and not just, "to the teacher!"|
|Love it: be fairly quiet and use a nice way of talking!|
|Talking and listening are a big focus!|
|"Try" to pay attention. Hope it won't be too hard!|
|Respect your job..love this!|
So, tomorrow we will find the common themes and summarize them into one expectation for each big idea. Hopefully, we will have 5 or so guiding expectations for our fabulous year in 4th grade! Students will work together to decide who will write the sentences in "large neat handwriting" for the bulletin board, and who will illustrate each expectation as well. Finally, students will add their own photos and signatures to the board, confirming their agreement and participation in developing a positive classroom culture.
This all might seem like a lot of time dedicated to setting expectations. What do you think? What process do you go through to develop and share your classroom expectations with students? Please share so that we can learn together!