Sunday, July 22, 2012

Illustrating Class Rules through Read Alouds

I recently finished The Leader in Me by Stephen Covey. It was a great summer read for several reasons, but most of all I was reminded of the importance of explicitly teaching students how to be their own leaders. Isn't this the purpose of classroom rules when it really comes down to it? One of my favorite phrases is "Do the right thing!" My students need to be constantly reminded of this; however, it has taken me a few years to realize that you have to very carefully teach and model the "right" thing to do in various situations. The 7 habits provide a great framework for teaching students how to be responsible and effective leaders in their own classrooms and hopefully in life.

I really liked my rules this past year; but I came up with them and they were posted before the first day of school. This year I want my students to have some ownership, so I think I will have a brainstorming session with them and then fit their ideas into my 5 pre-established rules. (I also would like to come up with a mission statement together with my class this year, as suggested by Covey).  Here are the rules I used last year:

  1. Be kind
  2. Be respectful
  3. Be a good listener
  4. Be a hard worker
  5. Be safe (This year I'm changing this to "Be responsible.")
I was inspired by The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey. I decided to take the language of the 7 habits and see how they aligned with my 5 rules. I'm not ready to fully jump on the 7 habits leadership boat because I think it would be hard to 100% implement it without the whole school participating. But there are cetainly parts of the 7 habits that any teacher can use within his or her classroom. What I found was that looking at the language of the 7 habits helped me define my rules and what I mean by them. I  matched each habit (except Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw) with one of my rules and then used the explanation of that habit to help define my rule. I liked the simple language of my rules and didn't want to fully adopt the 7 habits yet. Hopefully this reflective work will help me explain and model each rule to my class this year. If you are interested in how my rules fit with the 7 habits check it out below.

The other thing that I did while thinking about my class rules and how to teach them was to make a list of read alouds to illustrate each rule. I did this last year, but needed to find a few more to beef up the list. I figure the more exposure to each rule the better. Here are the read alouds I am planning on covering throughout the first 6 weeks.

I hope you find this useful. My vision is to incorporate these read alouds into my reading block as well as throughout the day, especially during that first week when they schedule is still being taught. My next project is revamp my literacy work stations using elements from the Daily 5. I am almost done with "The Sisters" book and can't wait to strengthen my work station time.

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