Starting the school year has always been exciting not only for students but also for teachers. We, as a teacher would never know the children we are going to deal with for the whole year through. Thus, setting up an essential agreement at the beginning of the academic year is essential as we want to establish a good and conducive class.
Rules or agreement?
Teachers in some school are now starting to move away from using the word “rules” to using the word “agreements”. What are actually the differences between rules and agreement in classroom? Rules are imposed. They’re set for the purpose of compliance. Any violations of rules should be punished to maintain the power of the rule. Rules are “above people.” The locus of control is external, teaching us that we don’t have the power – so we’re pushed toward obedience rather than internal motivation.
Agreements are negotiated. They’re set for the purpose of collaboration. Any violations should be discussed to learn. Agreements are “between people.” The locus of control is internal, teaching us that we have the power – so we’re pushed toward intrinsic motivation.
However, although some teachers are no longer use the term “rules” in their classroom, some others are still using it because they might think what their classroom would be like without any rules. They don’t want to have a chaotic class so that they prefer using the “rules” instead of “agreement”
As for me, since i am teaching in an IB school, i prefer starting my class by creating an “essential agreement” to make sure that my class will function well and in a conducive way. Rather than teachers imposing their rules on children, everyone in the group works together to establish an agreement of how the class will function. Here are some tips of creating an essential agreement in class.
- Last year, i tried this with my students. First, i will let them watch some video about what a good classroom and a “not-good” one. After that, we brainstorm together. We ask them which classroom they would prefer studying in and ask the reason why.
- After brainstorming, we ask the students again what make a good classroom. Students will come up with various answers. We can also ask students to come up with things that might disrupt the class, anything that will make the class stray from its goals. For example, if students want to improve their listening comprehension or learn to think in English, it will be highly disruptive to hear students speaking their native language. Little ones might say that they don’t want any shouting, yelling, or hitting in class. Some students may say that they shouldn’t interrupt someone when he or she’s speaking.
- How to avoid disruptive behaviour. After getting some ideas about what disruptive behaviours are. We can brainstorm with the students about how to avoid the disruptive behaviours to make the class run smoothly. They might be quick to say that no shouting, yelling, or hitting is allowed in class. And to avoid interruptions and make sure everyone has a chance to speak, your students will suggest that they have to raise their hands. Try to phrase each of the rules in an affirmative way, for example, in a way that tells them what they should do and not what they shouldn’t do. Having your walls filled with “No shouting”, “No eating in class”, in other words, no, no, no everywhere does not contribute to creating a very positive learning environment either.
- Now you have to put it all in writing, after all, verbal contracts won’t hold water in a classroom. They can make a poster illustrating the essential agreement, and then put it up some place where it’s clearly visible. You can also give students some post it and have them write about what they just said about how to avoid disruptive behaviours to maintain a good and conducive classroom. Ask them to paste/stick into the place provided and together read all the agreement.
- So, to sum up, make sure each and every student is clear and agreed on the agreement. They should also understand that the agreements are subjected to any changes should there be any cases which require any changing or improvement of the agreement.
Grade 4 Teacher
If there is one thing I learnt from being a teacher for so many years, it is the importance of a positive teacher-student relationship. The teacher-student relationship is one of the most powerful elements within the learning environment. Students learn best when they enjoy learning with their teacher, the classroom atmosphere or the ambience the teacher creates.
When teachers form positive bonds with students, classrooms become supportive spaces in which students can engage in academically and socially productive ways. Students who have a positive rapport with their teachers use them as a secure base from which they can explore the classroom and school setting both academically and socially.
Each student has a different learning ability and as a teacher, we need to recognize that. I have always treated my students as my friends. I like to get to know them better. Firstly, it means getting to know the students’ learning styles and where they are in terms of their knowledge, abilities, and potential. More importantly, it also means getting to know their interests, personality, and background. For the teacher, this body of knowledge opens up the possibilities for growth and learning opportunities.
Teachers will see wonders once the students are willing to come out of their shells. It means they trust us as their teachers. We have gained their trust and confidence. Hence, students will no longer see us as only their teachers but also their friends. To me, this is what a positive teacher-student relationship means. I have seen so much improvement in my students once they no longer see me only as their teacher. Yes, they still have to respect me because I am, after all, their teacher, but they also trust me because I am their friend.
By: Devi Godri
English as a Foreign Language Teacher
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, Jakarta
What would you do if children have passion for something, but they need someone to do it with? Their passion should be identified and support for further developed in such directions. Starts with simple things such as reciting the bible verses together, reading silently together to mention but a few. Joint effort is necessary in facing challenging questions, disagreement or agreement on certain issues. Not all learners are lovers of books, but they show passion to know, and that is enough, as they run through those pages trying to find something interesting we see that to them, searching for facts and interesting events is more important and fun as it is reading word per word, which is an interest for others. It is getting interesting to see that as teachers sitting with them, doing what they are doing, they even do it better and enjoy it more.
If adults become a part of children’s passion and say “ we can do it” or’ let’s do it together” children tend to develop more interest in whatever activity or feel able to face whatever challenge because they know, they are not alone in such situations. Every child has potential to achieve and succeed, when parents and teachers realize the value of doing things together step by step hand in hand with the children that is a stepping stone to encouraging, nurturing and challenging them to achievement of full potential.
Doing things together it is not as easy as we talk. Not all students are socialites, some would love space most times, but just letting them know you are available incase they need a hand, is a source of further inspiration. Big effort is needed for join effort. There is need to know the child, in context of which is the best way to stand with them. Students in the sixth grade need a lot of attention, not only are they experiencing physical changes but have targets such as the national final examination and preparation for high school. Consistency, discipline, and patience are important, they need help more than ever before. The best help is to join them in all their effort as individuals. We have to remember that we are the “model” of everything for every child. We recommend the joint effort approach as applied in our class and seemingly beneficial. *(Bridget / Wulan P6 – BPK Penabur Banda)
The first week of school is the most important week of the school year and it is always be exciting for both teachers and students after the holiday. This is the time for teachers and students to make an adjustment. Everything was well prepared to welcome those days. Everything was made to attract the students to play and learn
At the first week of school the students made their agreement. They wrote their agreement on a big piece of paper and put their colorful hand prints on it. We called it ‘Give Me Five’
- Respect each other
- Take turn
- Keep ourselves and others safe
We tried to make our days more relaxing and less stressful with fun activities that required arts and games. We read stories, created our ‘jar of stories’, played together at the big playground, made friends and shared holiday experiences. We sang IB learner profile using ‘twinkle-twinkle little star’ tune. We used movements to represent the profiles. They loved it so much, for it’s easy listening.
The students also explored and created IB learner profile in the classroom. They made it using their understanding and of course their language. They discussed, wrote, and put them on the window so they could see and read it everyday.
Our first week of school was awesome. Students enjoyed their times to play for learning and of course they had fun.
“The best way to make children good is to make them happy.”
— Oscar Wilde, author and poet
EY 2 Teacher
Sekolah Victory Plus