Written by Mrs. Herber, Elementary Teacher
In part 1 of this series, Mr. Epsten discussed the school-wide initiatives Horizon Academy has taken to create a caring community of learners. Continue reading as Mrs. Herber discusses what this looks like in the classroom.
The Golden Rule. On the first day of school, teachers take the opportunity to discuss classroom rules. Most teachers will let the students come up with classroom rules they think are important. These rules usually include, following directions, waiting quietly to be called on, picking up after oneself, and being respectful. When the students share the rule “to be respectful” a teacher may ask “What does that mean?” Students take time to think about what it means to show respect. Most will provide an answer, restating the rules they have shared. Teachers then take the opportunity to discuss “The Golden Rule”. At this point classrooms discuss that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated. By using “The Golden Rule” students practice looking at things from different perspectives.
Classrooms find many opportunities for students to get to know each other. Most of our classrooms encourage students to try to sit with someone new during the lunch period. This is a time where students have a more unstructured social setting, giving them the opportunity to talk about common interests and hobbies. Classroom teachers often have students partner or group up during an activity, so students have opportunities to collaborate and work together. On our afternoon walks, one might observe different ages or grade levels walking together. All of these things reinforce the idea of building a community where everyone is shown respect.
Students at Horizon Academy learn to accept themselves as well as others. We find that when students are comfortable with their differences such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, they are able to accept themselves. Once students have learned to accept themselves, they will begin accepting peers’ differences as well. They are also connected by their similarities. Many students at Horizon often empathize with each other because they have struggled through similar learning, social, or emotional challenges. Through these experiences, our students find comfort in the Horizon Academy community!