One of my favorite character traits to teach is that of responsibility. This is a trait that many, includingmyself, can never seem to master. Therefore, it is a constant challenge, and I love a challenge. For kids,
it is even more difcult. Kids thrive on rules and accountability. They hate it and love it at the same time.
In today’s world, kids need to be taught responsibility over and over again. They need to be held account-able for their actions, and they need to understand that all choices have consequences, good or bad.My classroom expectations/rules are the six character traits, each of which I simply write with the word“be” in front of them: Be caring. Be responsible. Be respectful. Be fair. Be a positive and active citizen. Be
trustworthy. During the rst few days of school, we take an in-depth look at how each of these traits actu
-ally applies to a classroom. I get on the computer, project a blank screen with the trait written in bold let-ters in the center, and I write as my students brainstorm about what that trait looks like, sounds like, actslike, etc. Finally, I print it and post it up in the room.
My classroom management system is a monetary one. I start each kid off on the rst day of school with
$300 fake dollars and a wallet. I printed the money off the internet, and the wallet is a simple manila bank
envelope that I buy at Ofce Depot. Students can earn money and they can lose money at any given time.Let’s rst discuss the ways in which students can earn money. In my class, each child is given a weekly
helper job. I usually have around 24 students, so I have to get pretty creative when it comes to inventingdifferent jobs for them to do. I start with the standard ones: classroom banker, telephone operator, tech-nology assistant, teacher helper, pledge leader, classroom pet feeder, line leader, door holder, etc. Then Imove onto the more creative ones: pink chair sitter, poem of the week reader, star of the week, etc. These
tend to be the favorites of the class because they nd themselves getting to sit in a comfortable chair for a
week, bringing in their favorite poem to share, or talking about the special items they brought from home(for when they are star of the week). The most important job, however, is the reserve person. This personhas to do any and all jobs that are assigned to someone who is absent on that particular day. The stu-
dents get paid for all of their “work.” I nd these jobs to be helpful as well, because they eliminate ghting
over who gets to sit in the big comfy chair, for example. This also gives me the perfect answer when astudent wants to share an item or pet with the class. I simply say, “That would be a great thing to save for when you are star of the week.”The students get paid $50 a week, and payday is on Friday. In paying them, I simply run down the joblist out loud, and they tell me if they did their job every day, some days, or not at all. We decide on a fair
paycheck amount, and my banker then pays them their wages. It takes about ve minutes to do this, and I
assign them new jobs for the following week at the same time. I simply post all 24 jobs on a bulletin boardand then move each child’s name down one spot each week.I am often asked what I do if one of my students lies. My answer: nothing. Before I even start calling for jobs I remind them that this is a time to shine in the character trait area of trustworthiness. I explain tothem that I trust them to tell me the truth, and that I believe in them to do the right thing. I also remind
them of the word karma. Do I have kids that at out lie? Of course. Do they eventually get caught? Most of
the time. Again, this is an opportunity for gentle reminders and lots of modeling.
My students are required to purchase a planner/agenda on the rst day of school. This is lled out to
-gether as a class at the end of the day. Students then take it home, share the daily happenings with their parents, and obtain a parent signature at the bottom. The next day, they bring their planner to our Char-acter Circle meeting. When our meeting is over, they bring it up to me for a signature check. If they haveone, the banker pays them $20. If they don’t, they pay me $20.