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The best rule that I have heard and I would believe to be my attitude towards classroom rules is that I need a classroom where learning takes place, and if we can respect each other then we don’t need any other "rules." I absolutely believe in keeping a safe environment where put-downs and name calling is not allowed–this also falls under respect. If I can have respect for my students as well as having them respecting each other, I believe this leads to a safe environment where learning can take place. I am not a stickler for gum chewing or eating and drinking as long as it does not interfere with learning and doesn’t make a mess. I would like to give my kids the freedom to eat or drink as long as they are responsible for their trash and mess. If it gets out of control, I will let them know that the privilege will be taken away, right from the beginning. I also do not mind if students wear hats in class. To me this is an ancient rule and as long as the hat does not interfere with learning, then I will let them wear them.
I may try to create a class constitution if behaviors in the class are inconsistently out of control. I really like the idea of having the students involved in making their own rules and negotiating with each other which ones to put in the constitution. If the students are involved in making the rules, I believe they will be more inclined to obey them and the consequences that will be implemented will not be fought against. I would have the students write the final constitution on a poster board and hang it in the room. I would also send the constitution home to have the parents sign it and return it to me so that I can include them in what we are trying to accomplish in the classroom.
In terms of creating a safe environment for all to learn, I want to create an environment with positive and numerous student-teacher relationships. Especially in diverse classrooms where many students are from different backgrounds, I want to create an environment where students are not and do not feel that they are being treated unfairly. I do not want to label students or assume their academic ability on the way they look or act. I do not want the diverse settings to lead to situations where communication is not happening. I feel this is where behavior problems may arise. I want to create an environment where "teachers accept them [students] as individuals with unique and cultural difference; to respect, relate and like them; to listen and communicate openly; and the understand and honor their family, culture, language, and race." (Sheets and Gay, 1996) I believe to succeed in having a classroom like this it is necessary to have great interpersonal skills even more than classroom management skills. I want to create an environment where I can weave the curriculum into m students’ different lives and experiences. I want them to be able to share these experiences and relate them to the material we are working with. This is a major plus of a diverse classroom. Where we can celebrate differences and learn from each other.
I would also like to implement some class meetings where we can discuss what is working and not working with the class. I would like these to be like an open forum where ideas and suggestions can be discussed and hopefully implemented. I am very interested in learning what the students are thinking about and making the learning environment as much to their liking as possible. I think this dialogue is crucial in creating an environment where the students feel autonomous and in control of their learning.
I would also use class meetings to discuss whole-school rules. I would hope that the school in general takes some time during the year to discuss policies with the students to get student feedback. In my high school this year, there was class time assigned to discussing the issue of homework. The administration is taking the feedback of the students to decide how to solve the issue of students having too much homework. I believe that it is imperative to adhere to whole-school rules in order to have an effective policy in the school. I will try my best to follow the whole-school rules where they make sense for the safety of the students or for order in the school. If I do not agree with the school rules, I will be talking to administration to see if there may be alternative possibilities.
In addition to making a class constitution, I would like to send out a monthly newsletter or post one on the web so parents can see what is going on in the classroom. I believe if parents are involved in their child’s school, the child will have more support at home and the parent can help with any issues that arise. I believe in involving the parents as much as possible.
If there is a consistent misbehavior problem, I will initially ask the student to talk to me after class. I will talk to him/her about the positive things they are doing in class and how I appreciate something they are doing, as in participating in class for example. I will tell them why their behavior is interfering in the class and have them meet with me later to make a plan of how they will be able to stop the behavior. In class, I will give them a warning and then ask them to move to the back of the room to work by themselves. I always want to keep consequences in line with the misbehavior. If the misbehavior continues, I will talk to the student and make a phone call home. I might also ask the parent to come into school for a meeting with the student. I think it is very important to involve the parents. I do not believe in throwing a student out of the room unless they are being harmful to others or me in the class–either physically or verbally. I believe that misbehavior should be addressed with the teacher and student communicating as much as possible. I feel that sending students to the "office" is overused.