Win With Civility!

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Happy August! Wow, where did summer go?! Did you know that August also marks “Win With Civility Month”? When I heard this, I knew that without a doubt I had to address its importance in my monthly blog post.

Now first, let’s talk about what exactly is meant by civility. Civility is a polite act or expression and furthermore, the way you conduct yourself when faced with adversity. Adversity never happens in schools, right? Wrong! Adversity is everywhere, but I don’t want to focus on that. Rather, I want to focus on how we can celebrate civility, positivity, communication and problem-solving skills with our students. The great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right”.  #TRUTH

Here are 3 practical ideas of ways in which you can work to create a positive classroom environment:

  1. Incorporate circles into your classroom routine.

Work to build a community of trust, develop relationships, and strengthen communication skills through the use of classroom circles. Circles can be used to serve a variety of purposes, and you as the teacher have the power to use them to meet the needs of your classroom and students. However, don’t lose sight of the main goal: to create a safe space where connections can be built and strengthened and students can be empowered in a positive manner.  This video shows one school’s journey using circles as a means by which to foster achievement.

  1. Take the “Civility Pledge”.

I happened upon “The Civility Pledge” on the character.org website, and love it! It could be a school-wide or class-wide commitment and be displayed for all to see. What I like about this idea is it promotes the idea that we all must work together to build a culture of civility.  Here is the pledge, but you could always modify it to meet your needs.

Take the Civility Pledge:

I pledge my commitment to personal reflection and

assessment of my conduct as I strive to do my part to build a

more civil society – one in which each person is respected and

public and political discourse are aimed at the betterment of

our communities, our state and our nation.

I will respect other’s rights to hold different opinions; strive

to understand differing perspectives; avoid rhetoric that

humiliates and belittles others; speak out against incivility

and act to promote respect for all people.

  1. Practice what you preach.

As a school leader, it was always my belief that we should treat our students with respect—no matter what. I never felt that I needed to belittle kids when they were in trouble. I’m not saying I was perfect, but I tried my best to model the behaviors that I wanted to see in my school. Even if it’s not always reciprocated, we must model civil behavior for our students. A teacher once told me that students did not “fear” me as a leader, and in that teacher’s eyes, that was a negative. However, my reply was “Yes, you’re right… and I’m proud of that. I want our students to do the right thing because they respect me, not fear me”. Practice what you preach and strive to model self-control instead of uncivil reactions.

What are you doing to promote civility in your school or classroom? Drop me a line and share!

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About the author: Katy Garvey

Katy Garvey is the Social Learning Manager for Source for Learning, the non-profit parent company of TeachersFirst. She began her education career teaching Spanish before entering into administration. A former middle school principal, Katy spends her free time exercising and with her family.


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