Thursday, 3 April 2008

Rules for Life

I began to watch a TV movie the other night, not expecting much - the "Ron Clark Story" - a true story about an inspirational teacher who turns around a difficult class in Harlem. Sure, I thought, blah, blah, blah........but the classroom was very realistically portrayed, the attitude, the lack of manners - I began to see that this was, in fact, a true story. This made me very interested in what he was doing to teach them the rules for life. He has made very explicit rules regarding expected behaviour, right down to greeting teachers by name, using eye contact and applauding with both hands for 30 seconds! It's done with humour and intelligence. He not only turned a rabble of a class into a cohesive, well-behaved group, he also raised their SAT scores to equal the best in the area. Now, my class is not that bad, but they do have their moments......so I devised a "Bill of Rights" and listed several explicit expectations including some of Ron Clark's. The change in the class already has been noticeable - "Yes, Miss" sounds so much nicer than "Yeah" , for example. Kids seem to actually need and want this explicit direction - the class has had a much friendlier feel this week. Ron is a truly inspirational character.

4 comments:

Kate I said...

I think you're right Cate...kids really do want the guidelines even if they say they don't.

It would be interesting to have a discussion at the end of the year to hear how the kids feel about the year lived by the "bill of rights" and what difference it's made for them.

Great idea and even better that you put it into action!

Patti said...

This is a fantastic idea! Mutual respect is so important in any relationship and it builds self confidence when you can make eye contact and be assertive. Would love to hear too, the end year result.

Annie said...

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. goes a long way...one of the kids I see on a daily basis in my Nurses office at school told his mum, when asked why he came to see me every day, that he loved walking in there because he felt I always wanted to see him.
When anyone- adult or child- walks in I greet them with a smile, a welcome and an invitation to sit down.
I'm glad this has filtered through to this boy- who has Asberger's Syndrome. He is often involved in incidents in the playground-not everyone would be so pleased!

musemother said...

Hi,
found your blog through another blog ....just came back from a workshop at Kripalu in Mass. USA on workshop leaders, and how to be present. interesting what difference it makes to teaching, to breathe, relax, watch, allow.
take care,
jenn
aka musemother