Ultimately, the golden rule in my classroom has always been, Respect everyone and everything. All other rules lead back to this one. But, I can’t stress enough just how abstract the idea or concept of respect is for students (and some adults too) so it’s something you want to make concrete by having students identify specifically what respect looks like and sounds like in the classroom and school. Introduce your students to Aretha
Franklin and make R-E-S-P-E-C-T your class anthem (or at the very least a jam to introduce your lesson). Have students work in table groups, with partners or as individuals to brainstorm the respectful things that they would expect to see happening in their classroom (sharing supplies, being helpful, raising hands, walking instead of running, pushing in chairs, putting materials away in correct places, students giving eye contact) and the things they would hear in a respectful classroom (people speaking one at a time, people saying please and thank you, people speaking at an appropriate volume, people paying compliments). Then, come together to chart their suggestions and keep the chart hanging up by your class rules so you can reference it as needed throughout the school year. Aretha has helped me with classroom management a time or two as well. The Queen of Soul would watch over the class (her printed headshot), and as she catches the class being respectful (that’s actually times when you or another adult pays the class a compliment) I would add a letter to the dry-erase board until the class spelled out R-E-S-P-E-C-T at which time we would celebrate with a treat or reward of some sort (generally, extra minutes added to recess since it’s always a hit and completely free). If you want to have Aretha help you out with your classroom management I’ve included the brainstorming sheet, headshot, and letters to spell RESPECT here.