Want to infuse more character education into your classroom routines? Let’s start with RESPECT & EMPATHY! A great tool for teaching these traits is The Golden Rule. Here’s how I use The Golden Rule for classroom management.
PLUS–you can grab a free tool to help you apply this approach to your classroom environment too!
**This post contains affiliate links that pay a commission to this site. Please see the full disclosure here. **
What is The Golden Rule?
Many different cultures apply The Golden Rule philosophy as a way to help you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Being able to better understand and empathize with others often helps lead to having a greater respect for them.
Here are other ways The Golden Rule is phrased:
- Do Unto Others as You Would Have them Do Unto You
- Don’t treat people the way you wouldn’t want to be treated
- Treat other people the way you want them to treat you.
No matter how you phrase it, this approach is a powerful way to help your students show more respect for each other AND for you!
Classroom Management Mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes I made as an early teacher was trying to establish a class full of rules—thinking that was all I needed. I quickly learned, “Rules without relationship always leads to rebellion.”
[tweetshare tweet=”Rules without relationships always leads to rebellion.” username=”tanyagmarshall”]
No matter how well-crafted your class rules are, some clever student will find a loophole and way to break them. Or you will find that students follow your rules–but only when you are watching them!
So I switched from a rules-based approach to a relationship-based model!
Using The Golden Rule to Teach Empathy
The first step I take in using The Golden Rule for the classroom is with morning meeting discussions that help build empathy.
When students are taught to stop and ask themselves, “How would I want to be treated if this were me?,” the results are powerful!
We begin each day with 20 minutes of reflection, organization, and prep for the day.
Each student has a task card with a reflection question to answer. They can write their answers on sticky notes attached to each task cards. This allows me to use the cards repeatedly.
We briefly, but consistently discuss their answers and feelings on each reflection question.
These reflection questions teach my students to think of others, which carries throughout the full school year.
Ways to Use the Golden Rule to Teach Respect
The next step I take in using the Golden Rule for classroom management is with “What IF” scenarios that we act out.
This comes once we are finished with the reflection questions. These “What If” scenarios continue to help students think of how their actions impact others.
I found this simple jar with golden stripes in the Target Dollar Spot. I fill it with scenarios or things that could possibly happen with student behavior.
Then I assign teams to practice outing out the scene in front of the class.
Here are example scenarios we act out:
- Pretend you are talking to a friend to tell her something really important. In the middle of your sentence, she interrupts you and starts talking to someone else. How would you feel in this situation?
- Imagine your teacher asks you to line up. While you are standing in line, another students pushes you out the way and gets in front of you. Would you say this person is following the Golden Rule? Why or why not?
- During a game at recess, a classmate calls you a mean name because his team lost the game. What would you do if someone hurt your feelings with their words?
One of my favorite things about these mini-skits is that students are also getting reading practice!
Not only are they reading and collaborating in groups, but they are also gaining more exposure to HOW to apply the Golden Rule to different situations.
This prevents it from just being a “philosophy” or nice-sounding quote and shows students ways to put this into action.
How I Keep This Going Throughout the Entire School Year
The final way I use the Golden Rule for classroom management is to find ways to infuse character education into my teaching activities all year long!
These teaching activities include a continued focus on this classroom management approach.
Teaching and life get busy. It can be a challenge to teach character education without sacrificing academic content.
One of my favorite ways to do this is with read alouds and learning centers/stations.
This not only allows me to cover my learning standards and skills, but it also builds in character education with our on-going activities.
For more details on using this approach in your classroom, check out these resources:
- 5 Ways Teachers “Encourage” Student Misbehavior
- Children’s Books About The Golden Rule
- How Gratitude Improves Classroom Environment
- Easy Ways to Improve Your Classroom Environment with Music
- Books that Teach Socio-Emotional Skills for Students
It’s NEVER too early or too late to establish good habits in student behavior and attitude!
More Character Education Activities
If you are interested in more character-building activities to implement in your class, then be sure to also grab your FREE Golden Rule Task cards.
These digital Golden Rule task cards are designed with Google Slides and can be used for in-class or virtual learning!