Step 1: Use What The Children Know, Their Own Homes, To Teach The Concept of Culture
In the first few days of school talk with the children about how your classroom is like a family away from home. Discuss how you are all here to support one another as people and as learners. “We support each other’s talents, interests and needs much like we do in a family.”
Brainstorm with the students about the culture in their own homes. Ask them what you would see and hear about their family culture if you were a “fly on the wall” or a new pet in their homes.
“If I came to your home what would I see?”
“What would I see you doing together?”
“Where would I see you sitting?”
“What would you be talking about?”
“Who would I see reading, cooking or making lunches?”
“Would I see the children getting ready on their own in the morning?”
“Would everyone be doing their part to make your home happy and calm?”
“How would I see you helping one another?”
“What would I see when there is a conflict or a problem?”
What one sees and hears when they enter a home is indicative of the culture of that home. The foundational values the family members in that home live by. The same is true in a classroom. But many times, parents, students, and teachers are unaware they have a culture, a credo defining the way they live.
Step 2: Discuss how we all have cultures in our classrooms, even if we are not aware of them. Culture is the foundation upon which our children learn and behave. What you value is your classroom culture.
In order to help the children reflect on what they value, you can use the Martian Technique.
Ask the students to help you make a list of what a principal, Martian (they love that part) or person from another country would see if they came to observe your classroom.
“How would the students enter the classroom in the morning?”
“How would the students greet me?” (the teacher)
“How would I greet the students?” (the teacher)
“How would you decide what to do first when you come into class?”
“If you were playing quietly and a classmate came over to you what would you say? How could you invite him to join you?”
“If you had friends from the year before and there was a new student, how would you show that student that we are kind to one another?”
“As we sat down for a lesson or moved to labs or centers, what would we sound like? Would we be loud and out of control or peaceful and prepared to learn?”
Take all the student-generated ideas, and as a class, develop one sentence that tells the students (and others) the culture of your classroom.
The sentence is –
“In our classroom we….”
Example – In our classroom we use kind words and actions. We value each other’s need to learn, so we created a calm, caring safe classroom where everyone is supported.
“We are a classroom that…”
Example – We are a classroom that respects individual differences, lifts one another up and uses words and actions that respect each others’ feelings.
Step 3: Collaborate to develop a sentence such as a Mission Statement that defines how you will behave.
Now, you write one sentence that shows what the culture “Looks Like”. This sentence is an agreement regarding how you will LIVE your culture.
The sentence is –
“When you come in our classroom you will see….”
“When you come to our class and close your eyes, you will hear….”
Example – When you come in our classroom you will see children who are polite and caring toward each other. You will see us listening to our teacher and working together as a team focused on learning.
Helping students take part in discussing how you develop a “Culture of Kindness” that is inclusive, calm and joyful is how you lay a foundation of mutual respect and engagement.
Let’s Create Cultures of Kindness – PART I (in case you missed it CLICK Here).
We’re Blooming several classrooms as we speak, we’ll let you know how it goes. You do the same, let us know how it goes for your class, we care, the conversation is on Facebook. Learn more about The Bloom Your Room Art Collection HERE.
The Bloom Your Room art & activity book is HERE.