A few days ago, I had quite a scare in my classroom: I thought my computer had a virus. I totally teach through my computer and Smartboard. Horrors!!! The IT person from the district (God bless her!) finally came in the midst of my teaching my fourth graders and had to interrupt me to ask questions throughout the twenty or so minutes she was there. When she left, she commented to me, "You have a dream class. I have never seen such polite students."
She is right. I do have a dream class. (Sure, they drive me crazy sometimes, but they are nine and ten-year-olds!) In all my years, I have never had a bad class. Never. As a whole, I have always had a good, if not dream, class. And I'm going to tell you why.
- I expect my students to have good manners. I expect them to say "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am". If they don't they have to repeat themselves until they do. My class discipline letter states this as well. In it, I tell the parents that it conveys an atmosphere of respect. Our town has many northern transplants, and I have yet to have any parent complain. I also tell them that I expect "please" and "thank you" from each student as I will use those words with the children as well.
- Our classroom rules are created by the students. Every year, we come to the conclusion that all rules are based on treating others with respect and showing them good manners. Therefore, the class always includes one that says "We will only say things to others that will make them feel good." (Too bad all the kids from those horrible Disney and Nick shows don't follow that rule...)
- Whenever we have a speaker/visitor come to our class (we've had three so far), I have every student write a "thank you" letter. We brainstorm on specific things we learned or enjoyed from their visit. Every letter must be at least five sentences and share how much they appreciated the visit. This teaches gratitude and showing it to others. The children love hearing about how much the recipients enjoy their letters - and I get a writing grade!
- I am "Mom" from 7:30 until 2:15. I will love them like a mom, and only expect the best from them... like a mom. Sometimes when I get onto them, I tell them, "I'm treating you just like I treat Sumter and Jackson." They laugh and say, "That's because you are OUR mom from 7:30 until 2:15!"
And... I love having a "dream class".