A Teacher\\\'s Ramblings: Classroom Rules - The Safe Zone
Jan 20, 2012 Classroom Management 2686 Views
Students who arrive in high school reading at a second grade level are, more than anything else, SCARED. They've had six years or so of spending seven hours a day on one thing - hiding the fact that they can't read. They've been hurt in school in a thousand ways a million times before. Their fear reveals itself in many forms, of course, ranging from truculence to silence to disruption.
Safety, then, is of the utmost importance, and it got first position when I wrote my rules.
Our Classroom is a:
- Give every person as many chances as they need to succeed.
- Respect personal space, personal property and personal dignity.
- Ask for help, and expect to get it.
Give every person as many chances as they need to succeed.
Mistakes are a regular, and I'd say essential, part of learning, but the reaction of peers to your mistakes is something to be feared by high school students. Along with that, my students have 'failed' so many times they have ample reason to consider giving up. None of THAT allowed. Rule number one says you get another chance, and another, and that anyone who made that difficult would be breaking a rule and face normal consequences for it.
Respect personal space, personal property and personal dignity.
This is one of the fairly standard 'thou shalt nots' spun to the positive. Yes, I've seen many violations of all three of these, and was left saddened that the students would do those things to one another!
I also took this to heart. I realized early on that the well-worn idea of 'teacher proximity' that works well in some classrooms would not do so in mine. After all the years of pain my students had endured in school, there had to be much more positive ways for me to interact with them than to loom over them at their desks. I would still need to watch - carefully - EVERY second, but always while leaving them their personal space!
The respect for personal dignity is closely related to the rule about extra chances above, of course.
Ask for help, and expect to get it.
Asking for help requires a level of trust that is not easily built at any age, but is especially difficult for adolescents. I have made structured sharing a regular part of lesson plans, but have also gone a step farther and have individual conferences with students at least once every unit [ten times a year, more or less]. These conferences give me a chance to deliver praise, offer encouragement, and give whatever help the student has the 'courage' to ask for.
Safe Zone is just one of the three Zones in my classroom: Safe Zone, Quiet Zone, and No Parking Zone. My ramblings will get to the other zones soon!