|Image from here|
If there is one word that sums up my classroom management it is "Represent." It is the word I leave hanging in the air behind me if I have to leave early. It is the word I write on the board if there is a sub the next day. It is a word we discuss, we make our own, and in some ways it ends up defining us as a group. It is not indoctrinated, neither are my students punished if they fail to live up to it. It just becomes a hole system, without us even being aware of it. No rules posted, no heavy-handed discussions, just the word and all of the meaning it has.
According to the dictionary one of the many meanings of the words is To stand for; symbolize and that is exactly what it means for us. When my students are on their own they still represent the community we have created, they are carriers of the message we have chosen to nourish; tolerance, respect, politeness, and engagement. When we go anywhere we represent our community, our school's values and those of our parents. We symbolize what we strive to be, we stand for being upright citizens, humans beings with empathy who know how to act.
Yesterday, a teacher paid me the biggest compliment I could get, "Your students just seem to get it, when they are asked to clean up they do it right away and they do it as a group." I couldn't be prouder. They do it as a group, they take care of where they are, even when I am not there. I don't force the word, it comes up naturally throughout the year and we never define it formally, but it us and it is who we choose to be when we are engaged in school. It s what we choose to do whether spoken or not. I could not be prouder of these kids.