Yesterday, I joined some other educators in a blogging challenge. The challenge extended from one that a group of us did last summer: #5days5words. As someone who likes to break the rules, I guess it’s no surprise that I did so again. Instead of focusing on 5 words, I’m going to focus on 5 questions. My question for today is actually about rules: Why do we begin with them?
As I mentioned to a fellow educator today, I’ve been teaching for a very long time: I’m about to start my 19th year. I’ve taught every grade from Kindergarten to Grade 6 in some capacity, and I’ve changed a lot in these 19 years. Maybe I’ve changed the most around rules. I always started off the school year with a list of rules.
- I’ve tried co-created lists.
- I’ve tried lists that focus on the positives.
- I’ve tried lists of things not to do.
- I’ve tried long lists of rules and short lists.
- Sometimes I changed “rules” to “agreements,” but really, they were still rules.
In the last few years though, rules have really started to bother me. Even just the mention of rules gives me that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realized recently that Paula and I never created or posted rules for our children. What?! It must have been chaos in our room. Except, it wasn’t. This made me wonder, why?
- Could it be that when we view children as “competent and capable” (as our Kindergarten Program Document reinforces for us), we begin to trust that children can make thoughtful decisions on their own and support each other in doing so?
- Could it be that rules fall into a self-control paradigm, and maybe we need to consider children’s actions — like adult ones — through a Self-Reg lens?
I like to share this refresher on #SelfReg vs. Self-Control every few months:
👉🏼 Self-Reg: Seeks to identify & reduce problems in mood/thought/behaviour
👉🏼 Self-Control: Seeks to inhibit or manage such problems only when they arise
Learn more: https://t.co/kWrpyBmGkA pic.twitter.com/xHVF6tXQfB
— Stuart Shanker (@StuartShanker) April 16, 2019
I would like to believe that students can make good decisions and kind choices on their own, and if there’s a problem, there might be something else at play. Just like with adults, children also learn from these problems, and therefore, rules evolve authentically through lived experiences.
- Will lists of what to do and not do, help with behaviour?
- Do we really want our first interactions with kids to be in-depth conversations around what to do and how to be in our classrooms and schools?
Knowing the value of building positive relationships, I think that the rule writing of my past never really supported this. How do you create the rules in your classroom? Are formalized rules a crucial element to the start of every school year? Maybe there’s room for a little troublemaking in all of us!