Why I Teach Class Values Instead of Rules

I am a firm believer that kids will become whatever you tell them they are. If you tell them they are hard workers, they will work hard. If you tell them they are generous, they will be more generous. This is true for any value. Kids need opportunities and reminders to practice a growth mindset.

Confession: I don't have any rules in my classroom. Not a single one.

Before you roll your eyes, hear me out...

My son is 3. Which means that he is the master of taking what you say he can't do, and looking for loopholes to see how far he can push the boundary that's been set. Sound familiar? He is only three and he does this, which means darn tooting the kids in your class will do it too! Let's be real, how many times in school did your teacher tell you that you needed to write enough to fill a paper front and back, so you wrote in your biggest handwriting and skipped two lines to get done faster? (guilty, here!) Or, have you ever told a kid "keep your hands to yourself" to then watch them elbow someone and say, "but you said to keep my hands to myself, not my elbows." (insert eye roll here). Friends, these are normal kid responses. I mean, even as adults, we find loopholes to the rules.

So...I got rid of rules in my class and I replaced them with expectations. Not just any expectations though; I replaced them with character traits, or as I call them "Our Class Values".

Did you know that research has shown time and time again that kids become what they are told they are?! This gives a whole new urgency in how I want to treat and respond to my students. I wanted to use this to my advantage and and that is where the idea of creating our class values started. These values are things that are a part of our community; a part of who we are and who we will strive to be.

I am a firm believer that kids will become whatever you tell them they are. If you tell them they are hard workers, they will work hard. If you tell them they are generous, they will be more generous. This is true for any value. Kids need opportunities and reminders to practice a growth mindset.

When discussing class values with my students, I obviously have values that I want our class to embody, but I also let my kids choose. We create the list together. We sign a class contract. These values become a part of who we are and who we will strive to be each day. The classroom dynamic takes on a whole new level of ownership for students when it is addressed this way.

This is a class that shows kindness.  
This is a class that dares to be bold.
This is a class that laughs daily. 
This is a class that thinks critically. 
This is a class that works hard.
This is a class that learns from our mistakes.
This is a class that gives generously.
This is a class that shares selflessly.
This is a class that respects others.
This is a class that cares deeply.
This is who we are.

I made these banners (above) to serve as visual reminders of who we are. They are simple, but I printed them on my favorite Astrobrights paper to make them pop. They hang in the front of our classroom where they are always within our view. I deliberately chose to frame the wording as "This is a class that..." because I don't want them to be seen as rules. I don't want it to be seen as "do this, do that". I don't want kids to look for loopholes or exceptions. I want them to be seen as, "This is who we are", because research shows that if you tell a kid they are something enough times, they will actually become it! 

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I am a firm believer that kids will become whatever you tell them they are. If you tell them they are hard workers, they will work hard. If you tell them they are generous, they will be more generous. This is true for any value. Kids need opportunities and reminders to practice a growth mindset.

Spring Break Vibes


Y'all, I love me some spring break. Like loooooove spring break! But, I miss my kids. All of them. Even the kids that make me want to rip my hair out and visit my favorite Mexican restaurant for a Cadillac Margarita by 9 am. ;) I miss them!

I wanted to leave them a little something, something when they came back. When I walked through the Easter candy and saw these little Peeps, I knew what it was going to be!


These have been my "welcome back" treat for 3 years now, and they are a hit every time (even if some kids don't get the pun!). Some years, I write personalized notes, some years, I just don't quite have enough time and kids are 100% satisfied with candy and a cute note. Either way, it's one more way that I can make an effort to encourage my kids and make them feel loved.

What are some things you do to make your kids feel loved? I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Interested in welcoming your students back from break in the same punny style I do? You can grab these notes and nearly 100 others by clicking the image below!

Encouragement Notes for Students