Building A Community for Respect and Learning

During our transition to Common Core, I catch myself worrying a lot. Luckily, it’s the kind of worrying that does a body good (you may be thinking that doesn’t exist…but I think it does). That’s because each worry I have leads to a problem solving session…which leads to new and exciting ideas about teaching…which lead to amazing new projects that challenge me and keep me loving my job.

One “healthy” worry I just can’t shake is how to best develop my third graders’ brain stamina and develop their perseverance when solving complex, multi-step problems. My colleagues and I talk about this constantly. Yes, we have always focused on these elements of learning but never have we done it to the degree called for by the Common Core Standards.

As I mulled this worry over in my mind during the summer, I realized this challenge could not be mastered with a simple recipe to build my kiddos’ brain stamina; it required the creation of a whole new culture at in the classroom that prioritizes collaboration, risk taking and intense thinking.

Sheesh, this is quite a tall order. Yes, I had a mini moment of eeek.help.crazy.overwhelming.panic. Luckily, I pulled it together when I remembered to start small…I decided a revamp of my behavior management system would get the ball rolling. I have always used behavior system with one rule and three basic consequences; the system of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Respect Binder cover, contract, fix it ticket log.

In years past, the letters of this word have represented different ideas, but I decided to modify them to incorporate the expectations I would have for my students so they could develop the right mindset for intense problem solving at school. The expectation of being respectful while collaborating and thinking is already building a foundation for a learning environment where my students know they can take risks and share their thinking without being pressured to be perfect and “right” all the time. Looks like I have less to worry about than I thought. 🙂

Do you have an Common Core worries? We all do…share your’s below.


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I’m Laura Santos

I’ve been an elementary teacher for ten years, and love sharing tips and resources that make differentiated learning more manageable for you. Thank you for visiting.

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