Saturday, January 22, 2011

The rest of the rules

And here are the remainder of Brea's school rules. Check them out, they are entertaining, informative and effective.

Stay in your chair or your square. Stay in your chair or your square!
This one is tricky. The idea is that everyone is allotted their own space and in order to avoid chaos, you should try to stay confined to that space. I respect this rule. I like to have my own spot at the dinner table, my own side of the bed, and my own desk in the office. I can be a creature of habit that way. I remember Sophomore year of high school, I entered US History class late after a doctor appointment and someone was sitting in MY seat. I could hardly focus because my chi was all off. But at the same time, I need stimulation and some of my best ideas have come while showering or running. In fact, the whole Rules song was composed in the shower. So the bottom line is, there are times that you need to be still and it’s nice to have your own protected space for that. There are also times you need to move and find inspiration. Try to be aware of which time is which and in the mean time, stay out of my personal space while I’m standing in line.

And although my toys are cool. I can’t bring them to school.
Unless it’s show and tell. Even then, no one likes a bragger.

And no running in the classroom.
Because it’s just not safe. People get hurt, coffee gets spilt, bodies are less likely to be kept to themselves.

Number eight’s no stealing. And cheating is stealing. So don’t break break number eight for goodness sake!
No stealing is also number eight of the ten commandments. I figured if I was going to create a list of rules, I might well steal one from the Creator. There is a fine line between collaboration and ripping off other’s ideas. Being a creative person, there have been many times I have seen one of my brain children running around with someone else’s clothes on. I did all the work of coming up with the idea and so and so changed the font, added glitter, and tada--made it their own. As a teacher I would experiment with various seating arrangements--rows to work on establishing independent work, pairs for partner work, and quads for group work. Each have their own place in the grown up world and should be introduced early, but don’t think I didn’t staple together file folders to make shields for the kids to have up during tests. You can only get so far in life riding on other people’s work and ideas, so figure out how to prove yourself with integrity. Also stop thieving my stuff.

Number nine’s our motto to be kind: If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.
Speaking of stealing, I did take this one from Thumper, but I changed it to make it more grammatically correct. (Come on, “don’t say nothing at all”? Isn’t that a double negative?) I also used this rule to introduce some new vocabulary to my young learners. A motto is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. In informal ways, it can be a rule or slogan someone follows or lives their life by. Establishing one’s self as the kind of person who isn’t a total idiotic jerk, or at the very least, the quiet one during a gossip session, is a pretty good way to live your life. I was once asked to write down the three most hurtful things anyone had ever said to me. Thirty seconds later I had my list. Mean things are hard to forget, even if they were said decades ago. The point of this activity was to encourage me to keep the mouth part of my body in check and make choices that wouldn’t put my name and words on someone else’s list. Words are the most powerful tool we possess; they can destroy or build up depending on how they are used. Another good motto to live by is, Be a Builder.

And number ten from beginning to end--ALWAYS TRY YOUR BEST!
The one rule philosophy followers often suggest this rule to be the end all, be all of classroom rules. Pretty much anything a child does you can direct back to these four words.

“Billy, did you do your homework?”
“Was that trying your best?”
“Sally, did you lie about what happened at recess?”
“Was that trying your best?”

“Eva, did you stab that kid with the toy you brought to school after I told you to keep your body to yourself?” I got her on four counts for that.

Not only is this rule a good universal totem for classroom management, it also is a good agreement to have with yourself. As Don Miguel Ruiz's put it in his book The Four Agreements, our best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

One of the best motivational speakers I have ever heard was an Olympic swimmer named Josh Davis. He told us this story about his goal of breaking a world record in the 2000 Olympics. He trained and trained and on the day of his event, he broke the record. It was the best he had ever swam. But that day, three other swimmers also broke the record and walked away with the gold, silver, and bronze medals. He had done his best, better than anyone have ever done before but he doesn’t have a medal to show for it. We will never have all the accolades we deserve, but we can always have pride in a job well done if we always try our best.

A final lesson from the rules--people remember songs better than lists, so next time you want someone to follow your directions (the first time) put a little tune to it.

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