On the first day of school I tell my incoming 3rd graders that this school year they will be working harder than they have ever worked before and being better citizens than they ever tried before, but likewise, they will be learning more information and skills than they thought their brain could handle and particpiating in more fun activites than any other grade before. Here's how we accomplish that...
Mr. Higgins' Classroom Rules
Follow directions the first time they are given.
Keep your hands & feet to yourself at all times.
Use your indoor voice during worktimes.
Raise your hand to say something or leave your area.
Treat everyone with respect and kindness.
Behavior & Discipline
At Hurlock Elementary School we practice the 1-2-3 Magic Discipline Program. Each time a student fails to follow the classroom rules and expectations, he or she will receive a count. In my room they receive a "1" warning for the first offense with a verbal warning, a "2" for their second and owe 15 minutes of recess, and a "3" for their third and owe all of their recess. If a student is counted to a "3" he or she will relocate to the Time Out area and an "N" will be recorded on the weekly behavior slip. Certain behaviors or offenses warrant an "Automatic N" as opposed to the typical 1-2-3 counting. These behaviors include, but are not limited to, fighting or talking in the hallway.
In addition to 1-2-3 Magic, I also utilize the Love & Logic program which helps to teach students to think critically about, evaluate, and make better choices by allowing them to experience natural consequences of their actions. For example, if a student fails to complete a homework assignment, I will ask them, "What are you going to do?". The student will be expected to brainstorm and discuss with me acceptable ways to solve this problem. He or she may decide to complete the assignment during morning routine or during recess time (both of which solves the problem the student has encountered).
Unlike younger grade levels which may have allowed a certain number of N's per week, my expectation is less than 7 N's per term. Any number of N's above this will warrant "Non-Satisfactory" grade on the report card for a particular citizenship behavior or work habit. This will also result in the student not earning the special end-of-term activities. Behavior slips are to be initialed nightly, indicating that a parent or guardian has viewed the slip, and returned to the teacher on Monday. The behavior slips are located in the student's agenda.
In my class, student teams and the whole class can earn "gems" for following the directions, obeying school rules, receiving compliments or any other positive behavior they exhibit. Once our "gem jar" is filled up, the class can participate in special activities.
Each and every day that our students come to school they are expected to be ready, willing and able to work up to the fullest extent of their ability. In keeping with this, students must have followed the morning routine activities (listed below) to ensure that they are ready to begin the day. Among these are sharpening pencils, using the restroom, and eating a good breakfast.
Once class has begun I expect all of the students' full attention on the subject matter and participation in the activity or lesson at all times. In addition, all students are expected to listen attentively and make eye contact with whomever is speaking, be it the teacher or another student. If students have a question on the material or they do not understand something, the students are encouraged to ask questions. Here's the rule: If it is a teacher-led lesson, ask me (that's why they pay me the big bucks! ) or if it is a small group activity, discuss with your classmates and learn cooperatively from one another. If additional help in needed, students may work with me one-on-one on certain days during recess or specials. Either way, no question should be left unanswered. Remember, our goal is to Learn, Learn, Learn, and then just for fun, Learn some more.
All morning work, classwork and homework I assign to students is for a certain purpose. Otherwise it would simply be a waste of time. I explain the reason for each assignment to students and expect that it be completed in its entirety. However, Parents, if after attempting it, your child continues having particular difficulty with a homework assignment, please simply write a note to me in the agenda, and we will go over it the following day. Do not let a lesson reenforcement become an unnecessary burden at home. In addition, all work turned in to me must be in neat handwriting. If I can not read it, I will not grade it. Any illegible assignments will be returned to the student to do over during recess time.
Throughout the duration of the day, students will have numerous transitions. For example, the students will transition from their seats to the carpet, from center to center, or even from one room to another. I expect all transitions within the school building to be completed quickly, quietly and orderly. When moving within the classroom, transitions should occur within a maximum of 10 seconds (we will aim for 7 seconds). When it is necessary to move out of the classroom, students are expected to be in a straight line, facing forward, and with their hands by their sides. Absolutely NO talking is permitted in the hallways. This is a courtesy to our fellow students who are still learning while we are traveling.
Students benefit most when they are in class and engaged. As such, it is our classroom policy to discourage students from using the restroom during lessons. Students may use the restroom prior to announcements, during lunch or recess, after specials, and at the end of the day. Students are permitted to retain a small bottle of water atop their desks, but may not leave the classroom for additional water during instruction. If it becomes necessary to leave the classroom at any time, students are expected to sign out in the Classroom Log by indicating their name, destination, time of departure, and time of return. (Note: This also encourages the correct telling of time ).
Manners are Important!
We believe that manners are an important aspect of society. In keeping with this, students will be expected to use good manners at all times. If a student asks or something, he or she must use "Please". Likewise, if a student receives something, he or she must respond with "Thank You". As a rule, I withhold any items given (treats, pencils, etc.) if this aforementioned gratitude is not spoken.
When students enter our classroom, I make an effort to greet each one with "Good Morning, (name). How are you?". I expect that students respond appropriately. In addition, when adults enter the room (Ms. Wilson, Mr. Rio, etc.) our students should greet them similarly. When speaking to an adult, always use, "Yes, Sir", "No, Sir", "Yes, Ma'am", and "No, Ma'am".
We will review additional rules of ettiquette that will be expected in class.
No Bullying Zone!
Lastly, at the beginning of each school year I read aloud to my students Eve Bunting's Terrible Things and then share an abbreviated quote from Albert Einstein, who said: "The world is a dangerous place; not because of the people who do bad things, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." Ms.Bunting's story has been used in numerous nationwide character education lessons and stresses the importance of standing up and saying something when you see something happening that you know is wrong, especially as it pertains to bullying. Following our discussion of the story and quote, how it connects to our classroom and how it is different from tattling, all of our students are expected to adhere to the following policy: If a student sees or knows of someone being picked on or not treated fairly, it becomes his or her responsibility to do something about it. The student may confront the issue directly (with words) or may find an adult to assist. Either way, bullying issues shall not be tolerated, encouraged or ignored.
Remember our morning begins quietly
1. Unpack your bookbag of all needed materials
2. Copy homework assignments in your agenda
3. Check-in last night's homework with Mr. Higgins
4. Place your lunch order
5. Sharpen two pencils for the day
6. Make sure you have a book at your desk
7. Eat breakfast at your desk
8. Use the Restroom, Water Fountain and/or Media Center
9. Read at your desk until announcements
Class begins promptly at 9:00 a.m.
Now that I've shared a little more about my classroom expectations, please help me by continuing to reinforce them at home to ensure that your child has the best school year yet! Many Thanks! -Mr. Higgins