Well week two of semester two is now under way and what I've been hearing again and again is how important it is for teachers to establish and maintain a culture of respect in their classrooms. When I'm applying for a job in the spring of 2013 I will probably be asked how I plan to establish a culture of respect in my classroom and what will that look like? Good thing I'll have WBT in my back pocket!
As we talk more and more about it I realize how great the WBT system can be when it comes to establishing your classroom culture. Right off the start, your classroom rules are great for establishing a clear set of guidelines about what is expected in your classroom. Students will know what your classroom’s basic procedures are, how they should appropriately interact with their fellow students and how they should interact with you. I think that by having clear expectations right from the start, and sticking to them, your students are more likely to shape their behaviours around these guidelines (to an extent!)
Another component of WBT which I think really helps solidify a culture of respect is the “10-Finger Woo” and “It’s Cool”. I think that both of these are great practices that assist in meeting a student’s needs in regards to their sense of belonging within the classroom/school and their self-esteem. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these, when a student does something well (answers a question in class, lines up quickly, turns in homework, etc) you and the other students wiggle your fingers at the students and say, “woo!” (You can invent variations of this idea to suit your classroom). Your student is left feeling proud of themselves and a sense of community is strengthened by having a public acknowledgement of a student’s success. On the flip side of this, when a student is unable to answer a question or answers incorrectly you and the other students say, “It’s Cool!” Your student is not embarrassed and it allows for a classroom where learning is the focus as opposed to just having the right answers (which students can get fixated on). To read more about these, check out the hyperlinks above which will take you right to the Whole Brain Teaching website!
I think that when the time comes for a future employer to ask me about how I will establish a culture of respect in my classroom I know that I will be glad that I have WBT to help provide a good foundation towards answering this question!
I'll leave you with a great video from Chris Biffle that shows him using both the "10-Finger Woo" and "It's Cool" with one of his college classes.