In classroom rules, student charters and codes of conduct up and down the land are often very vague statements about respect and allowing others to succeed, that make perfect sense to adults, but are completely lost on students.
I was first introduced to this idea by the Behaviour Guru, Tom Bennett, in his post http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/2011/05/some-general-behaviour-advice-for.html As always, he’s spot on, and you should read his list of suggested classroom rules as they are super useful.
My favourite one is, “Do all work.” You cannot get any clearer or more succinct than that, and after all, is that not really what all those fancy ideas about respect are trying to get kids to do? It’s just so simple to call a kid out on it, “The rule is that you do all the work, and you haven’t done all the work.”
If you had a rule that you have to respect the teacher and each other, you’d then have to launch into a speech about how not doing the work is disrespectful to the teacher and the time and effort they have spent into designing the lesson. Kids don’t give a cack about that. But they’d give more of a cack about not doing the work when they know they’re supposed to.
Managers hate that though. For a start, it stops you differentiating by outcome, so that you can’t have the trinity of work you must do, work you should do, and work you could do. I think it also makes it look like no one is ever explaining why the students have to do the work, and why they have to listen to the teacher.
It’d be nice if students were all mature enough to understand that, and I understand how having high expectations is important, but expecting them to have the same understanding of respect as an adult does is setting the bar way too high. They’ll never get there. And you’ll never get them to do all the work.
Do your students properly understand the nature of respect?