The following is something that I'm developing for all of my classes. I began the school year with something similar to this in my 8th grade Civics classes. Recently we've had some trouble getting along well in some of my other classes, so I felt the need to address issues of classroom behavior. Other teachers and/or psychologists and counselors may recognize the influence of Dr. William Glasser's "control theory," and Jim and Dr. Charles Fay's "love and logic" concepts.

People who learn how to meet these needs without depriving others of opportunities to have their needs met are considered "responsible." If you either can't get these needs met at all, or are constantly tying to meet your own needs with no regard for anybody else's are pretty much "irresponsible."

If I tell you that you've been "responsible" or "irresponsible," you'll know that your classroom behavior has been helpful, positive, productive, constructive and contributing (responsible), or distracting, disruptive, inappropriate or destructive (irresponsible).

When you're irresponsible, it will be harder for you to meet your own needs. Irresponsible behavior makes it harder for the rest of us to get our needs met. You forfeit meaningful connections when you behave irresponsibly.

You are responsible for your own learning, your homework, your performance on tests and quizzes and ultimately for your own grade. Not completing assignments, not turning them in, and not studying are irresponsible. Responsibility will help you adjust to high school and college. Responsibility will help you succeed in life.

Response-Able- another thing to consider about responsibility is that none of us can really control anyone else besides ourselves. The only one you can really control is yourself. If you are able to control your responses, how you react to the way others treat you or behave toward you, you will have shown maturity. If you try to get-even or get-back at someone who mistreats you, the situation will only escalate and get worse. Half the time, when a bully tries to provoke you, they're looking for a reaction. When you over-react, you give them power and forfeit your own.

We need to refrain from interfering with other people's projects, we need to value, honor, or esteem every member of the classroom as someone entitled to just as much dignity as ourselves and we need to recognize that everyone else in the room has the same needs and rights that we do.

What should we respect?
Respect THINGS:

  1. Private Property- other people's Ceramics projects, their clothing, books, bags, etc.
  2. Public Property- WE ALL SHARE THINGS like the supplies, the clay, tools, glazes, brushes, paper, canvas, sinks etc. If any one person mistreats or abuses them, everyone suffers.

Respect PEOPLE:

  1. Respect YOURSELF- The way that you behave sends an unconscious signal to everyone about how you feel about yourself and how you believe you deserve to be treated. If you bully others, are impolite, or insensitive- you're basically telling everyone that YOU don't deserve dignity, kindness, manors, ore respect.
  2. Respect CLASSMATES- Everyone in the room has feelings, a history and a future. Everyone in the room has pretty much the same rights and needs that you do. They need to be accepted, they need to be useful, they need to be safe, they need to have fun, they need to be able to make decisions for themselves and they need to have some impact or influence on others. When you trample other people's rights and needs, you endanger your own rights. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "injustice ANYwhere is a threat to justice EVERYwhere." In other words, treat others the way you expect to be treated.
  3. Respect MR. MALLORY- Even if you genuinely believe in "Anarchy," the absence or denial of any authority or established order as a political philosophy, you must concede two things; 1) that I am a human being and have the same needs and rights that you do as individuals (see "respect for CLASSMATES" above) and 2) that as the trained and experienced expert in Art as an academic discipline, you NEED to give me your attention and deference at times so that I can effectively facilitate your learning. In other words, for all of us to learn, you need to listen and follow directions. I'm here to teach you and help you, but I can't do that without your cooperation.

My hope is to foster a CULTURE that is creative and constructive. We want to be able to experiment and express ourselves, but we want to do that in a way that promotes learning and improving our knowledge, understanding and skills development. In order to best support these two values of creativity and building one another up, we need to maintain a certain climate.

I want the Art Room to have a CLIMATE that is safe, supportive and positive. For this to happen, we must consider the needs and rights of others, not just our own. We must respect each other and each other's personal property and the classroom/commonly-held or "public" property that we all share.

It may be "fun" for someone to bully others, but it's probably not fun for others to be around them. Generally, "irresponsible" people are not fun to be around.

You can help improve our school's climate by respecting others, supporting others, and being as positive as you can. Martin Luther King Jr. also said that "Most people ... are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority of opinion, not thermostats that transform or regulate the temperature of society."

When you react to how people mistreat you or to "get-back" at someone, you're being a thermometer- just reflecting what goes on at your school. But if you either proactively do things to support or improve the climate, you set the tone like a thermostat sets the temperature!

Again, it's RESPONSIBLE to try to meet your needs and exercising your rights, while also respecting the needs and rights of others. It's IRRESPONSIBLE to disregard or even VIOLATE the rights and needs of others while selfishly thinking only of your own needs and rights.