I had an incredibly interesting exchange today with a colleague over the issue of rules in a classroom, specifically, rules that dictate how behaviors will be handled. I was struggling to properly explain why classroom rules were not needed in a school like SLA because there are three rules that the community uses regarding student behavior:
- Respect Yourself
- Respect the Community
- Respect this as a place of learning
Those are the rules. There doesn’t need to be a checklist of rules in each different classroom because these three cover it. I kept saying it to my colleague and it wasn’t resonating. So I thought a little harder about what was important about having and using these three rules consistently as a community and finally got to this… having your own individual teacher rules means that you don’t trust the community to live by the three agreed upon rules. The problem with everyone writing their own rules is that is erodes the capacity of the community to both rally around and to hold each other accountable for respectful behavior, consistently. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t effective ways of communicating academic information about classroom procedures and routines … I’m saying that when a community has a set of shared and reinforced rules, you don’t need your own. The community breathes life into that dynamic in a way that individual classroom rules never will. If you want a community, the rules need to also be owned by the community.
It is a gift to work inside schools where everyone is pulling in the same direction. As the new SLA@Beeber faculty gets off the ground, they will need to trust in something they haven’t been a part of before. I cannot express how grateful I am to be working with a group of people willing to create, grow and stretch their practice into the new campus. At times its exhilarating and at times I think it is a little scary. They’re in a group trustfall. Here goes!