15 August 2011

That's the way we've always done it

I hope you cringe at this phrase as much as I do.  The problem is, I think I am starting to become that person.  I have procedures, activities, labs, assignments that I love to do and believe they are meaningful for my students.  However, as the last year of teaching has taught me, sometimes you need to just change, to reinvent what you are doing.  

So, I have decided to make massive changes this year starting with my classroom rules.  For the past 5 years my rules have been:
1.  Be Respectful
2.  Be On Time
3.  Be Prepared
4.  Be Safe

While this is a pretty concise list, I realized that I circumvent most of them.  I allow my students to be slightly late for class because if I send them back to their previous teacher for a pass they are going to miss valuable parts of instruction.  I also keep my room stocked with pens, pencils, paper, etc. just in case they happen to forget their supplies.  After all, they are kids and there is no way I should punish them for forgetting a simple writing utensil.  The biggest problem is that these rules are no longer meaningful to me.  I rarely refer to them and they just collect dust on my bulletin board.

I wanted to make a list that was better aligned to my new goals and philosophy of education; a list that was less about procedural rules and more about being a better person.  Below is my tentative list:
1.  Be Respectful
2.  Take Initiative
3.  Be a Critical Thinker
4.  Dare to Fail

When I look at this list I don't see rules that incur punishments when disobeyed.  These are more about common sense and making sure you are the best person you can be.



  1. As an addendum, I think I also want to add Keep an Open Mind. This would apply to both the projects that I am asking for them to do and the ideas/opinions expressed in class.

  2. As a grammar kid, the only thing about this list that would annoy me would be the lack of parallelism with "be a critical thinker" / "think critically."

    But that's beside the point. I really like your idea of having these types of "rules" instead of punishable rules, as you say. I'd rather look up from my desk and see something inspiring rather than see ways in which this class is like every other class I've been in since elementary school. And I agree with the previous comment.

  3. S, thank you for the suggestion and your comments. Grammar has always been my weakest area which is why my wife proofreads everything for me. I will make the change this weekend so the sign is ready for the 1st day.