Over the years I have collected a few "core values" to use as guidelines for behavior, communication, and writing in my classroom. Students are willing to comply to these positive statements more than any list of rules I could create!
1. Don't get it right, get it written!
I was a part of the Midland's Writing Project (MWP) a few summers ago, and our fearless leader shared this line with us. It's very freeing for students to realize that they don't have to get everything right the first time...they just have to get it down on paper!
2. Write with your heart first, then revise with your head.
This is also an MWP statement, and it goes perfectly with #1. I love teaching my students to write with heartfelt passion without worrying about making it perfect. Revision and editing are steps that we can take care of once we get our thoughts on paper. Some students never write because they are afraid to mess up. In my classroom, we learn to embrace mistakes because they create the most authentic learning experiences!
3. Cooperate with each other, compete only against yourself.
4. You can solve a problem any way you want, provided it does not cause a problem for anyone else.
5. The quality of the choices you make today will dictate the quality of your opportunities tomorrow.
And the number one core value that pretty much takes care of any issue in the classroom...
6. Never stop someone else from learning.