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Precepts: Principles to Live and Teach By

July 16, 2014

Where did summer go? I am busy getting ready for the start of school which begins in less than a week for me. In my courses a critical concept is the importance of building community and relationships. I am rereading Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community by Alfie Kohn for the umpteenth time. Every time I read it I become more deeply committed to the importance of student/teacher relationships and the idea of “Working With” rather than “Doing To.” I wish I had read this book as a young teacher. My journey to becoming the teacher my students deserved and the teacher I wanted to be would have been much shorter.

While I will begin the class with an activity and discussion of the Kohn book, I am also adding something new to my toolbox. I am combining two ideas I have thought about for a while. The first is from the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. In the book, Wonder, Mr. Browne is a memorable teacher who loves precepts. So I am sharing a Precept of the Day during each class session.

In the beginning of the book, Wonder, Mr. Browne’s September Precept was:


What an important principle to live by!

From the book Beyond Discipline, my Precept for our first class will be:

Kids may remember nothing we tried to teach them but they will always remember how they and their ideas were treated in our classrooms. Kids who come back…..remember climate, relationships, and how they felt. They are just like us actually. We loved the teachers who made us feel lovable, intelligent, important.

(Kohn, 2006, pp. 150-51).



My second tool is an interactive notebook. For us to easily remember and reflect on our class precepts, I am adding an interactive notebook with foldables, drawings, and whatever helps us connect our learning to our professional practice. Reflection is an essential tool for both beginning and experienced educators. I have already started my journal, and I am excited about the possibilities for my students.



I hope you are always looking for new ways to involve and engage your students. Have a great school year.

Choose Kind!


For more examples of Alfie Kohn and classroom community take a look at these blog posts by Pernille Ripp at Blogging through the Fourth Dimension. She has thoughtful ideas about classroom management including rewards and punishments in the classroom.

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