Character education and social emotional learning is just as important (if not more so) as academics for our lucky little learners. The problem most teachers encounter is how to fit it all in! You’re responsible for getting them to pass tests, teaching them to read, write, develop math and critical thinking skills, and so much more. When you focus on character first, however, the academics will follow. The first skill I like to focus on with my learners is how to teach respect in the classroom. This is also the first module of The Encouraging Classroom, a 12-month character focus course that gives you all the materials you need to get started teaching character education. Here are some tips to get you started teaching respect in your classroom.
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Use Read Alouds
You can tell your students to be respectful all day long, but using stories to show good models of respectful behavior is key! I love Julia Cook’s books for teaching character, and one of my favorites for respect is That Rule Doesn’t Apply to Me from the Responsible Me! series. This story teaches your students why we have rules and that it all comes down to respect.
When you join The Encouraging Classroom, you won’t have to hunt for titles to use in your classroom to teach about respect. Suggestions are included in the course along with materials to help teach the character trait in connection with the text. All books chosen are currently available on YouTube, so you don’t have to bust your budget buying new texts!
Post Anchor Charts
Students need to be reminded of what respect looks like. Discuss how respect is modeled at school, at home, and in the community then post that in your classroom to be seen all year. In The Encouraging Classroom, you’ll receive an anchor chart template you can use with your students! Rather than just list what respect looks like for you in these areas, have students brainstorm together. When your students have a say in developing classroom rules and norms related to respect, they are more likely to buy in!
It’s possible that many of your students have not encountered some of the scenarios that force them to choose between a respectful and disrespectful response. Model these with your own behavior and read alouds, but also give them scenarios to discuss in class. For example, “You’re walking on the bus, and you see garbage on the floor. It’s not your garbage. What do you do?” or “Your friend has a secret she wants to tell you, but your teacher is reading the class a story. What do you do?” Bringing up these scenarios before they happen will give your lucky little learners a chance to practice being respectful and understand what respect looks like in different situations. These scenario cards come with The Encouraging Classroom, so you’ll be ready to practice with your students right away!
Use Stop and Think Sheets
Even with your best efforts, there will be times your students are disrespectful. Rather than just giving consequences, it’s best to allow them to reflect on their behavior with you and their parents. I do this with “Stop and Think Sheets”. Students reflect on the choice they made, choose an emotion (how they felt), and describe the choice they should make the next time. Give yourself room to make notes on the back of the sheet, and have parents sign on the parent signature line. It would be a good idea to make a parent contact via phone or email before this comes home. I also make a copy of the sheet before sending it home with the student. “Stop and Think Sheets” are also part of the “Respect” module in The Encouraging Classroom.
Your own Encouraging Classroom is a place where you teach respect. Digging up resources for character education shouldn’t be another thing that you have to add to your plate. That’s why The Encouraging Classroom is filled with these and many more resources and community to help you get started on everything character ed. Join us and learn how to teach respect in the classroom today!
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