The most important goal of the first month of school is to outline expectations regarding routine and behaviour both inside and outside of the classroom community. There are a variety of ways to go about this process, and teachers often adapt activities according to the culture of their classroom. Over the past three years, I have had great success in encouraging positive behaviour through the development of a classroom promise. During this group activity, the students share their ideas about our actions at school. Each idea is recorded on chart paper, and there is discussion surrounding each topic. For example, when a student shared the idea of using “kind and caring words,” we talked about the use of polite phrase such as “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” This activity allows students to be a part of a process, and they remember the experience of creating expectations for the classroom community. It is authentic and meaningful because they are involved in the development of expectations, rather than simply being told what they should or must do. The classroom promise encourages democracy and respect, as all students participate in the sharing of their ideas. Furthermore, the students remain accountable to each other, as they can be reminded of the experience of creating the promise, further encouraging positive behaviour amongst all children.
Check out the photo to see “Our Classroom Promise” for the 2010-2011 school year!