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Modeling Civility, Respect, AND Good Manners.

August 5, 2011

My personal word for the new school year is CIVILITY. In light of recent national events, I’m sure you will understand my choice. The graduate program I teach in is a nontraditional, cohort model, so our students are in school all year. I have already started new classes. This year, I have decided to become more intentional in my modeling of instructional strategies and activities for the
K-8 classroom. This week I employed a strategy I call Conversation Partners. My lesson is built around short interactive lecture and small group cooperative learning tasks. As a way to process and transition between activities, I ask students to discuss new learning with a partner.

To begin the lesson, I give each student an attractive handout with graphics, a space to take notes and record the names of their Conversation Partners for the class. I assign the partners creative names like Breakfast Partner, Lunch Partner, Afternoon Tea Partner, Dinner Partner, and Midnight Snack Partner. (Be creative and build your partner names around the beach, a sport, etc.) My students are adult learners so they were a little surprised when they were given the following directions:

  •  Find Conversation Partners for Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, and Midnight Snack. Your partners must be from a different table. (This is the “get up and move around” part.)
  • Ask a classmate, “Will you please be my partner?” If you both agree to be partners, record each other’s name. Ask your partner to share something interesting about their day. Have a short civil conversation to get to know each other.
  • Before you move to find your next partner, remember to say thank you and shake your partner’s hand.
  • Find four partners and record their names. If you are someone’s Afternoon Tea partner, he or she is your Afternoon Tea partner.
  • When you have found all of your partners, quietly return to your tables.

Yes, there were a few smiles and soft giggles, but they are used to me treating them like the children they will soon have in their own classrooms. Even though I have used this strategy many times I was again pleasantly surprised and gratified by the enhanced climate of civility in our classroom that evening and the plethora of please and thank yous that I kept hearing. They are an exceptionally kind and compassionate group, but even they enjoyed practicing respect and good manners with their classmates in our very safe environment. Yes, good manners became a game. It can happen in your classroom too. Make your classroom fun. Model good manners and insist on civility as you lay the groundwork to build community in your classroom this year.

Below are some resources you might find useful as you start a new year of building community and modeling civility in your classroom.

Please, make today a good day!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Liz Clark permalink
    August 6, 2011 10:05 pm

    This is an excellent reminder to all people! Many generations….(aging oneself) it was required and assumed….and your right modeled to us! So we must remember to do that as well! Always the best!


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