Updated Oct, 30th 2012
Integrating Core Values Into My Classroom
(a bit different than a company, but perhaps still the same)
My “Company’s” aka Classroom’s Core Values
I am a high school teacher. At this time I am not in a position to write core values for our school. I’ve approached our principal to participate in this course along with other staff members, but it’s not happening at this time. I have approached my division head, and he’s very supportive of Delivering Happiness so that may be a reality in the near future. So for the moment I can only control what happens in my classroom so I’m listing my core values for myself and my students. I hope that someday soon, that can extend into core values for our math/science division. I’m perfectly fine with baby steps.
1. Mutual respect. I expect my students to arrive on time and prepared and in return, I will do the same. We only build each other up and not say anything that could hurt an individuals’ or a group’s feeling. Words like gay and retarded are not tolerated. We’ll often discuss why those words are so hurtful.
2. Work hard and play hard. I teach high school math. Learning math is not always fun or exciting. I try to have moments in class where we can enjoy being with each other, enjoy learning and then we can get back at the work at hand. Sometimes we even have fun learning math. Crazy, I know.
3. Be honest and open. I share glimpses into my life. I hope that by being open and honest, if at some time a student needs an adult to confide in, I can be that person. When that happens, you’re reminded that you really make a difference.
4. Integrity. I always tell them that although I don’t allow retests, life happens and sometimes being a teenager is tough. Should this happen, take the test and fail it proudly, then come talk to me. We can always work it out. So much better than cheating and being dishonest.
5. Having high expectations. This goes both from me having high expectation of my students as well as helping them to have high expectation of themselves. AND is goes for high expectations of myself, quality of the work I provide for them and even in aspects of my personal life that I share with them.
6. Care about each other. I’m very open with my students and truly care about them. It’s amazing what you learn about them simply by attending a play or sports event that they’re involved in. By being there for them in all ways, they’re will to do anything, yes, even math, for you.
I realize that these core values are established and governed by me. I could with each class come up with a set of rules, but at the end of the day, I lead the discussion and we’d arrive at similar core values. That sounds terrible, sorry. I can’t really fire anyone if they don’t agree with the core values. The classroom is a bit different than a company. I know it’s shocking, but at times students arrive to my class not really interested in learning. Even worse, they may dislike math.
It’s funny, but the kids do respect and almost appreciate the rules. The one that amazes me the most is having high expectations especially arriving on time and no late work. These may not seem like big deals to those of you not working with teenagers, but it is. I’ve even had kids tell me that they check out a teacher for the first few weeks to figure out what they can get away with. They seem to almost appreciate that I care enough about them and set high expectations. I often see that coming right back to me in how they approach the class.
Implementing my classroom's core values
1. Recruiting. Nothing I can do here. You are given a group of students.
2. Hiring. Same here.
3. Training. Now we can get going. I start with setting expectations. Students need to clearly know my expectations including areas where I have no flexibility (tardies, cell phones, academic integrity) and where I am a bit more flexible (late work with a fine – much like a library book fine, but I accept Kleenex boxes per late assignment due by the unit test). There is also a lot of work that goes into just how I expect my class to run. Demonstrating what a good working group looks like, what quality work looks like, what it looks like to study for a test, math test taking skills, etc. . .
4. Customer Service. One of my professional goals this year is parent contact. As part of my goal, I am making positive phone calls, trying for five per week. So fun and so rewarding. The parents always sound so concerned when you start the call with “Hello this is Mrs. Trent’s your son/daughter’s math teacher . . .” I then get to WOW them with a story of something wonderful their child has done in my class. Additionally, I email the parents as a group to notify them of upcoming exams and special due dates as well as to let them know when grades are updated after a big exam.
5. Team Building. Each and every day is a team building experience in class. One day I hope to formally do more team building activities, but in my classes students work individually, in pairs as well as in groups. Modeling a good, and even more fun, a bad group, is part of my class. This also happens with monitoring class behaviors, how students treat each other, words they use (no gay, no retard), encouraging them to encourage and build each other up versus tear each other down. I always say that there’s enough tough stuff out in the world, but C206 (my room) is a safe place where we keep it positive.