Behavior Fitness for the Classroom
Nothing affects learning more than the environment. The most motivated students still face an uphill battle when their school classrooms are chaotic and undisciplined. No classroom can (or should) be silent rows of children, learning in lockstep. If it ever was like that – which is debatable – it isn’t like that now. The best classrooms today look like beehives of activity where everything is geared toward learning.
So, kids still must have rules of good behavior – let’s call is behavior fitness for the classroom! They don’t need a long list. Over the years, I’ve discovered four rules pretty much cover it:
Parents help kids – and teachers – with these four rules by expecting that they do some pretty basic things - like these:
1. Follow class procedures. When kids walk safely and quietly in the halls, for example, they’re being responsible and respecting the learning going on in other classrooms.
2. Raise your hand to speak. Raising your hand simply allows students to take turns speaking, sharing, and discussing. Everyone gets a chance, just not all at once.
3. Keep your voice down. No one can learn when there are too many distractions. It’s okay to work with others as long as one group’s excitement doesn’t keep the others from doing their work.
4. Listen to others. Children learn from listening to others, hearing opinions, evaluating. Listening is one of education’s most important skills.
5. Don’t hog the discussion. We care for and respect one another when we express ourselves and then let others do the same. It’s all about sharing.
6. Ask for help when you need it. This is taking responsibility for our own learning. When kids feel safe about asking for extra help we’re ensuring their success. Who doesn’t need a little help from time to time?
7. Help someone else. What better way to show caring than helping someone who could benefit from your assistance? Kids love to share their knowledge with each other. Study buddies encourage each other to stay on track and prepare for quizzes. I tell students, never let a day go by without helping someone.
8. Do your work. The most responsible behavior of all. Get your work done, preferably with good humor. Then, be accountable by turning it in.
9. Pay attention. Another responsible behavior. Amazing the number of problems that can be avoided if we just paid attention to begin with.
10. Stay in your seat. Much classwork is done at your desk. Of course, if you’re working in a team or in some other group activity the teacher has organized, you’re free to move around. Otherwise, stay put.