Sunday, September 7, 2014

Creating Our Class Promise

I can't believe we're starting the third week of school. I'm loving my group of second graders and we've been working hard to set the tone for the rest of the year. In recent years, one of my favorite community building activities has been creating a class promise together.

I first found out about class promises when I read Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning. I had been creating rules with my class for a few years, but I loved the idea of making a promise to each other instead.

This year I started by reading my poem, A Kind and Caring Classroom We discussed the meaning of the poem and why showing kindness and caring for one another would help our class to have a good year.

We made anchor charts to show what we would do or say if we were showing kindness and caring. I used a template from my school's positive discipline training to organize the student responses. We made a chart for showing kindness, another one for showing respect, and a third for helping each other learn.

During that first week, I also read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud.  We made another anchor chart to compare bucket filling and bucket dipping. I'm always amazed by how insightful the students are in these discussions.  They show remarkable empathy and understanding.  It always makes me wonder why bullying is such a problem in schools. 

Finally, we were ready to write.  I used a shared writing model for composing the promise. We started out by thinking about what kind of classroom we wanted to be in. That first sentence is very important, as it informs the rest of the promise. In other words: If this is what we want, how are we going to make it happen? With my guidance, the students decided what we needed to include and helped me to compose the sentences. It took us a couple of days to finish, but finally, we were done.

There was one more step to make it official.  We needed to sign the promise. To make it even more personal and meaningful, I had the students create a representation of themselves to post beside the promise. You can see mine on the right. After all of the students finished their people and signed the promise, we were finished.

Here's Our Class Promise for the 2014-2015 school year.

This is our class promise from the 2016-2017 school year.

Sometimes the kids will surprise you with their creativity! I love the cowboy version of himself that one of my kids created.

Do you have any suggestions for creating a positive classroom climate?  Please share them in the comments below.

Until next time,

1 comment:

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