Friday, September 14, 2012

Differentiating Responsive Classroom- Our class rules

Typically in opening a classroom following the Responsive Classroom philosophy we develop our hopes and dreams and then use our hopes and dreams to talk about what we need to do to get to achieve them. From there we come up with a long list of all the rules we need to do (safe hands, raise your hand, sit quietly, listen to the teacher... all the mundane rules) and then we'd sort that long list into 3-4 categories like "Take Care of Yourself", "Take Care of Others" "Take Care of Your Environment". Those categories would become our class plan (or rules).  I usually made a cute poster that we could hang in the classroom to refer to.

This year I didn't think we were ready for such abstract concepts. So we worked backwards. First I took pictures of them doing all the things we want them to do. In the first few days of school it isn't hard to catch kids sitting quietly, sharing, listening to the teacher, or walking slowly. And if all else fails, you can always ask a kid to model raising their hand for you so you can get a good snap shot- which is totally what we had to do...

Then from the pictures we talked about what we noticed that was great in each one. The kids came up with the labels on their own- Sarah is sitting quietly. Her mouth is closed. Her eyes are forward. Kerry is sharing with Johnny. Johnny is raising his hand. For each picture we'd settle on one main rock-star behavior- raising hand, working hard, sitting quietly, etc. We wrote that on the poster and then displayed that with the picture in our meeting area where we are sure to see it.

We did one at a time until we covered our main behaviors. In the general education classroom I would go for more general rules or "plans" as I called them then. I feel I need to be more specific and concrete with this population of children. However, that doesn't mean the plan/rules still can't be positive, meaningful, and feel child-generated. I hope my students still feel that they own our class plan.

Once we made all our posters then we talked about all the things we want to do in school. We made our hopes and dreams clouds and displayed them for the world to see. We talked about how our hopes and dreams can happen when we follow our Rock Star Behaviors on our wall.

Same theory, just a bit more concrete and specific.

Now that the posters are up we refer to them frequently. The kids love using themselves as models of good behavior- seeing themselves raise their hand in a picture is an excellent reminder that they can do it- and will do it!

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