I cringe when I think about the kind of teacher I used to be, when I first began teaching. Not knowing any better, I taught the way I was taught:
I had a red-yellow-green behavior clip chart for my 4th graders.
I kept kids in from recess for not finishing their homework.
I assigned a reading log.
I killed a lot of trees from copying worksheets.
I gave rewards for passing an AR quiz.
I didn't "have time" for teaching writing and allowing my students 30 minutes of independent reading time every day was out of the question.
Classroom rules were posted before the students even walked in the room on the first day.
Whew....I cringe again just reading that list.
Maya Angelou got it right when she said: "When you know better, you do better." I think this quote sums up my growth as a teacher. Thank goodness!
Take the classroom rules, for example.
When I first started teaching, my list of rules was probably quite long: Raise your hand to talk; No talking when the teacher talks; Use the bathroom on your own time; Do your best work; No cheating.
Blah, blah, blah.
Thankfully, I began to know better and do better.
Rules became expectations and there became fewer of them. We came up with these expectations as a class, not just me telling the students what they were.
Eventually, we thought it best to just live by the Golden Rule: Treat others as we want to be treated. This led to many rich conversations and "family meetings" when things were not going well and the classroom community was affected.
In reality, no one really likes rules because they take away our choice of self-direction.
Maybe the world would be a better place if we all just treated each other the way we want to be treated.