Expectations or Rules?

As a teacher we have always had “classroom rules.” However, last year I tried something new…I presented “classroom  expectations” the first day of school and what a difference I’ve noticed.

The majority of my students have been in our center for a few years, so they know our “rules” which are your basic: use gentle hands and feet, indoor voices, being a good friend, raising your hand, using your manners, etc. Well, the first day of kindergarten during our morning meeting I sit my new friends down and we talk about rules…I then tell them that there aren’t any rules in kindergarten. The looks I get are priceless! I see some very excited faces…until…I tell them I have “classroom expectations” instead of rules. Now I have a lot of blank faces. I go on to tell them that I “expect” they already know how to behave while at school and I have some new expectations” I want them to follow:

• We Are A Team

• We Try Our Best

• We Create

• We Respect Each Other

• We Celebrate Other’s Successes

• We Learn From Our Mistakes

These expectations are an extension of The Workshop Ways, which were developed by The Children’s Workshop.  The Workshop Ways are a set of Positive Behavior Institutions and Support that we call PBIS.

The new expectations were met with enthusiasm, and the class goes over them every morning. I also add “how” we are going to meet these expectations. As they meet an expectation I remind them what expectation they met and how it was met. After a few weeks, I hear the kids telling one another when they realize an expectation has been met. As a parent I want my own children to realize that we all have “rules” in life, but we should also set “expectations” for ourselves in life. I started to look at what I was doing in my classroom and how it can be applied in my own home with my children. Basically, I started rethinking how I set home “rules” and turned them into “expectations.”

I want my students and my children to be independent thinkers and feel confident in themselves. I want them to be the best they can be. My children like this way of thinking because they are able to take ownership in our household and how it is run. I find myself looking for the positive rather than the negative in both my students and my children. I find myself more relaxed and not constantly harping on what they aren’t doing right. I celebrate more in their accomplishments, because I see more effort going into tasks. I will continue to encourage them and remind them that respecting others is something they should always do. I will celebrate their successes and help them learn from their mistakes…it’s a part of life.

Robin Friedlaenderis a Kindergarten Teacher and Lead Administrator at The Children’s Workshop in Bourne, MA. She joined The Children’s Workshop family in 2008.  She holds a BS in Early childhood Education from Kennesaw State University in Georgia.  Before joining The Children’s Workshop, she taught 5th grade inclusion, 2nd grade, and Pre Kindergarten at Jefferson Parish Public School System in Louisiana. Robin is a working mom of three amazing children ages 8, 11, and 14.  She enjoys reading, scrapbooking, traveling, journaling, shopping, going to the beach, and spending time with family and friends.

Robin's Blog was published on CapeCodMommies.com, a great networking and parenting resource for Mom's on the Cape and Martha's Vineyard.