Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WBT: Program 515 Five Rules Certification Post

How to Successfully Weave the Five Rules into your Daily Instruction

“Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together”. -Anais Nin

I have a dream of a classroom where my students follow directions and know and use all my rules. I have a memory of a classroom where my students don’t know how I expect them to behave and ignore my rules. The way I’ve taught my rules in the past there has been a disconnect for my students in what I expected from them once they knew the rules. I believe I failed to weave a proper blanket for them: a blanket of rules, procedures and expectations.

Every classroom needs rules, whether they are short and simple or long and detailed, you will be hard-pressed to find a room without them. Some rooms have them posted for students to see, and some simply have them given but not posted. What every classroom has in common is the fact that they exist, but what makes a Whole Brain Teaching classroom stand out from the pack is how they are used. A Whole Brain classroom weaves the rules into many aspects of their daily learning, procedures and expectations.

The video, Program 515, explicitly teaches me as the teacher how to weave my own comfortable, cozy Whole Brain blanket for my classroom. It started with the reminder that my rules are not simply to be taught at the beginning of the year and only brought up again when used as a reminder for less than perfect behaviours, but must be rehearsed as part of our daily routines the whole year through. I must make it part of my teaching style to find quirky ways to engage my students when rehearsing the 5 rules at least three times a day. In this way, my day is wrapped in a blanket of rules.

One of my biggest weaknesses in my own past classroom management, was getting the students to follow my directions. I had failed to teach them why these rules were important, and what the consequences were for failing to comply. My rules were not a part of their unconscious thought. But with Whole Brain teaching, and specifically Coach Biffle’s method of weaving the rules into our daily routines, I believe I could make my day much better, and by extension, the days of all my students. Coach Biffle suggests for Rule #1 (Follow Directions Quickly) that it be made into a race and students are trying to beat their own collective best time to line up quickly, pass out papers, put away books, etc. By making this routine fun for students, we will waste less instructional time and students will feel responsible for this rule. The rule has become a procedure, and thus has been woven into our daily routines.

The rule which my students will need more help in making a part of their blankets and weave into their days will be #4 to Make Smart Choices. This rule is a hard concept for young students unless we explicitly teach it to them. They need to know what exactly IS a Smart Choice, so we must weave a picture for them. Together as a class we pose questions about real life situations and we can create anchor charts together which compare smart and silly choices. We can talk about any common situation, and as the year progresses if we come across new situations which could make their blankets knotted, we need to sit down together again and make new charts to see how this rule has its own set of procedures for every experience. This rule is not just for our classroom, it is for their lives outside of school and for the rest of their lives. By having this rule, we are saying we want them to grow up to be responsible people with dreams of a better future.

The last rule is also easily woven into the blanket of our daily instruction. Students will always deny they are breaking a rule even when we catch them knotting someone else’s blanket, but if we ask them if they are making us happy with what they are doing, they can never prove to us we are happy when we are not. If students are trying to keep us happy, then they are learning, because that is what will make us happy. Every teacher knows that with the shortage of teaching jobs, that the teachers who can prove their students are learning the curriculum, are the teachers who will be happily employed for another school year.

I have a dream where my students knit together beautiful multicoloured knowledge blankets which will go with them through every stage of their learning journey.

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