Barbra Stephens over at Honorable Mention blog talked a bit about creating classroom culture. She mentioned Michael Parker's work (with which I am not familiar) where he identifies 7 Commitments.
In my personal life, I can handle lists that reach up to seven, but in the whirl of a kindergarten classroom with 31 students in it, paring my list of guiding stars down to 3 works better for me. I guess I'm too simple-minded.
Anyway, I've found my classroom works best if I stick to three very simple values (I call them "rules" when I talk about them to five year olds, but they're really values). I teach these values RELENTLESSLY again and again and again and again......
Today, when I asked the kids to write words they know these words appeared on some of their slates. So they not only know them, they live them, and can read and write them, too.
So, what are my key values?
#1 Be Safe
#2 Be Happy
#3 Be Kind
Amazingly, in the seven or eight years I've been using this particular constellation of guiding principles, they've not yet let me down. They seem to cover every situation that arises (with maybe a little stretching here and there). If my students behave in ways that are safe, happy and kind, we're all good. If they're acting in ways that are unsafe, unhappy, or unkind, well, we need to go back to our guiding stars.