CREATING A PEACEFUL CLASSROOM
- The teacher and students will create the setting for a peaceful classroom.
- The students will list qualities of a peaceful classroom.
Two large pieces of chart paper
Copy of the Parent letter
Copy of the "Friends" poem
- Think of every child in your class as whole, perfect- and capable. Focus on the promise of each child and imagine this year being the realization of this promise. Also, think about the promise of you, as teacher, impacting your students for the rest of their lives out of the way you interact with them this year. Think of your students as responsible, productive and caring individuals. Know that you have the ability to help them develop in this way. Now you are ready to have a dialogue with your students.
- Ask students to sit in a circle either on the floor or in chairs. The circle connects them visually and allows them to see one another. It is helpful to ave a permanent space in the room where you can easily form a circle.
- Say, "Out of my care for you, I want to find new ways to have a peaceful future. We often hear about people hurting each other or not caring about one another. I started to picture what the world would be like if teachers everywhere began to teach their students how to get along and accept other people. What kind of world would it be? Peace starts with each individual, and the way you act affects the world around you." Allow the children to respond.
- Express your interest in getting to know each student and your willingness to be there for them if they have a problem. You might say something like: "I want us to have a great year together. Out of our cooperation and care for one another we can all help to make this happen."
- Speak about the need for everyone in the class to work as partners, to cooperate, and to be considerate. Discuss the meaning of the word "considerate." Stress the need for each member to take responsibility for having a peaceful atmosphere in the class. Ask, "What does taking responsibility mean to you?" Discuss.
- Ask, "How do you want it to be in our room throughout the year? How do you want to be treated and how do you want to treat others?" You can begin by stating some of the ways you would like the class to be. (Example: I want the children to be considerate of one another.)
- After the children have discussed the kind of class atmosphere they want, you can label this atmosphere as "peaceful." On a piece of chart paper write: A Peaceful Classroom Is One in Which...
- Ask your students to reiterate the qualities of a peaceful classroom on the chart. It may start something like this: "A peaceful classroom is one in which... we are considerate of each other. We speak quietly. We pay attention when someone else is speaking. We don't call each other names." You can keep expanding this chart throughout the year.
- After you complete the chart together, ask the children what a "non-peaceful" classroom might be like. Discuss. Ask what it would take, on the part of each student, to have the class be the way they want it to be. Discuss.
- Ask your students if they will all agree to do whatever it takes to create a peaceful classroom and bring to life what they listed on the chart. Tell them that the chart can serve as a guide to follow during the year, and that additions can be made to it at any time.
- Ask if anyone feels that they might have a problem abiding by the "rules" on the chart. Discuss. Stress the need for cooperation and the fact that everyone working together will make a huge difference.
- Ask the class to sign an agreement which states, "We agree to follow the rules we created together to have a peaceful classroom." Hang this next to the "A Peaceful Classroom Is One in Which . . ." chart.
- Copy the Peaceful Classroom chart and send it home to your students' parents with a note .
- Discuss the note with your class. Ask them to discuss it and the chart rules with their families for homework.
- Conclude by reading "Friends".
Suggested Wording for Note to Parents
Our class has developed a set of rules (attached) which we have all agreed to follow throughout the year. We invite you to be our partners in the goal of having a peaceful classroom this year. Would you save these rules and talk them over with me?
Throughout the year we'll be doing other activities like this from a program called Learning the Skills of Peacemaking. In this program we are learning that peace starts with each individual, and that it's important for all of us to take responsibility for our actions.
If you have any questions about the program, or our rules for a peaceful classroom, my teacher would DC happy to speak to you.
Thanks very much.
Permission to Reprint for Classroom Use: © Naomi Drew, Learning the Skills of Peacemaking, revised. Torrance, CA: Jalmar Press, 1995.
by Jonathan Sprout
Have you ever traveled far away to another town?
Did you feel like a stranger when you were there?
It's just a state of mind. You can feel at home anywhere.
Anywhere you go, there are kids who care.
There are no towns full of bad people.
In every town there are good people.
And just like you and me
They wish we all were friends.
Far away in countries all around the world
There are millions of people we may never see.
But they're reaching out and they're opening up their hearts.
And they want to be friends with you and me.
There are no countries full of bad people.
In every country there are good people.
And just like you and me
They wish that we were friends.
Everywhere you look today
People want to give.
It doesn't matter what they say,
We all should live
No matter where we live
Or what language we speak
No matter what religion we believe in
No matter how we dress
Or what lifestyle we seek
No matter the color of our skin.
© Jonathan Sprout, Kanukatunes, 1985. Permission to reprint.