Monday, January 25, 2010

Safe, Happy, Kind

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.


Todd said...

'I teach these values RELENTLESSLY again and again and again and again......'

loved it Dan :)

Corinne said...

And SHELBY loves those rules. She is always talking about, shares it and enforces it too.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Todd. By the end of kindergarten, all the students know what I value. Some (like Shelby) absorb them first time through; others it takes more doing.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Corinne,

Good old Shelby! She wants her whole world to be safe happy and kind, and I join her in that!!

Matthew brought in his book of poetry today, (My Hippo Has the Hiccups) and boy, I loved it.

The Honorable Mention said...

What I appreciate about Dan is that he gets me thinking about things, too. Dan is many things-simple minded never came to mind.
Michael E. Parker's book is actually a business book. Just like I encourage kids to use materials in creative way & unconventional ways I've adapted his book to work in this situation. The classroom environment I work in is considered at-risk. If it sounds is. The preschool children are emotionally on edge & need more of an understanding of what "happy, safe or kind" is when they come from and atmosphere of violence,lack sleep from hearing gun shots all night, and some have no concept of what play is because they have had to 'grow up' so fast.
I believe your constellation encompasses, these principals. The 7 Commitments are just for those that need a bit more understanding.....I completely agree with you, Dan. Kids should know these principles,live them, read & write them, it's only because we understand them that we can teach them.