Intentionally creating a classroom culture. What do we value?

We start our day with a personal greeting. A small moment to connect with each child. We look at each other and say hello. The children now come in and make this connection by themselves. These are intentional acts to develop personal bonds built on mutual respect and trust.  We give time to this because we value these connections. The children realize this is part of our classroom culture and copy it.

Morning meeting

Children quickly realize what a school and teacher value.  We intentionally and explicitly create our learning culture. We give time to what we value  An example would be the morning meeting.  A child  often runs the meeting and the teacher sits on the floor with the children. At first the teacher modeled the format and now the children listen and navigate the “no hands up” class.

This sometimes means children putting fingers on their shoulder every time that have an idea. They also have a symbol if their idea is the same as someone else. This gets everyone thinking and not just the same people holding up their hands. Their is an expectation everyone will be trying to think of something.

Children are encouraged to add their name to the agenda and share any ideas or concerns. Today’s items included Miu telling us that children were not looking after pens and tops neede to be looked after. Sohee who shared her picture that had a mistake on it and so she turned it into a “beautiful mistake”. The children  decided to use this picture as a front cover for a book about the value of making mistakes and learning from them. Finally Greyson had further questions about Fresh Fruit Friday, a grade 5 initiative to feed the homeless of Yokohama. He wanted to know who set this up and what made them do it. The children offered suggestions, but the teacher remand silent.

How we negotiate coming together as a group

The children sit in an informal group for morning meeting. The children have negotiated 7 different ways of being in this group. Some children sit on their bottoms, some stand, some hold a squishy toy in their hands and some kneel. We want the children to be in control of themselves and find the best way for them to concentrate. It is an expectation that children think about how they learn best.

These are just two examples of intentional acts designed to build a classroom culture based on trust and mutual respect. We wonder if this is seen outside the classroom at home?


It’s OK… tell the truth. A culture of respect and trust in our class.

The children have been running our morning meetings for months now. The children put their names on the agenda throughout the day. The next morning two children come and run the meeting. We have no schedule for this, overtime more children have joined in and now everyone has had turns.

The agenda seems to be getting longer. There are often house-keeping items, such as lost books or hats children want help finding. Though these are relatively simple items, the discussions are often complex. The children offer solutions and possible ways of organizing items. Some children offer to go to the ‘big’ lost and found in the high school. They are completely independent and solve all their problems by themselves.



Next come the agenda items about things which have not been put away, tops left off markers or a ripped book. This is when the classroom culture really becomes apparent. There is an increase in the number of children using this language.

Child One: Someone ripped the book, it is bad because now it doesn’t look good. Who did this?

Child Two: Yes who did this? [change of tone to soft and gentle], it’s O.K. You can tell us, we don’t mind. Just tell the truth, it will be O.K. Please just tell us.

Child Three: It was me,  I did it. I’m sorry.

Child Two: You need to be careful, but you told the truth, that is good.

We have worked all year to build this culture of trust and respect. Children take responsibility for their actions. They know there may be a consequence for the action, but they trust it will be fair.

Next on the agenda are creations and designs children want to share. This offers an opportunity to celebrate ideas and share opinions. Throughout the year we have worked on asking questions to find out more and sharing honest opinions which are worded in ways that respect the person who is sharing.

Child One: I made weapon, it is super cool and very strong. It has a piece that comes off. Do you have questions?

Child Two: Where did you get your idea?

Child One: I learned to roll up paper and it is very strong.

Child Three: Why do you always make weapons?

Child One: I like it and I use my brain to design good stuff. You can use my idea.

There are sometimes items which children are pondering, these can be about politics or social justices issues.

Child One: So I am going to explain why world war 2 started . There was a man and he didn’t like Jews…. They had to wear crosses. So when they took a poison shower and they died. It’s sad isn’t it?”

Child Two: I didn’t know that… that is sad. Thank you for telling us.

Child Three: I know this my dad told me, but I forgot.

Child Four: My dad’s dad died, it’s sad.

This is just a sample of what the children have discussed  last week.

When talking to a parent she noted that the children truly believe they can solve issues without adults. They don’t seek answers from adults as a first response. They are happy to listen to problems of any kind and offer advice, support and strategies. This is seen at home and at school.  These are powerful tools for future life.



We were responsible. Goodbye toadlets!

The children have carefully nurtured the toad spawn. It turned into tadpoles and finally toadlets. The children decided it was time to let them go. The children committed to looking after the toads and researched each  stage of their development and how to look after them. This was an excellent example of seeing the the process of change in a living thing.

They’re Back To Their Habitat – It’s That Time To Say Goodbye! on PhotoPeach

I’m not bossy, I am assertive. I am learning to be a leader.

Jimin came to me and said people told her she was bossy. We discussed this. In fact Jimin was being organized and trying to help people. When we discussed this as a class it became very clear that Jesse (boy) remembered being called bossy in Early Years but most of the girls had many more examples to share. Bossy is often a word used towards girls, but not boys. We want all the children in our class to have a chance to learn to lead. We are reminded that words have an impact on people, and words used about us can start to shape how we perceive ourselves.Having had class discussions about this the children like the word leader best, see their ideas here

When Grade One Define Learning.

Connie is developing a book about the Learning Wall and we wanted the children to develop their own definition of learning.

1P define types of learning:

  • It is something you can already do and you use it to teach yourself something new.
  • People can teach you things, but you have to work out how to use it by yourself.
  • You can learn things by yourself.


Owen: It’s when you don’t know it, then you think, think, think and then you  think… umm maybe it’s so and so.

Masaichi: First you don’t know then you think then you get it.

Erik: You do new things like your brain will grow.

Jimin: Teacher says something is wrong and you think again and again and then you do and the teacher say yes.

Vita: You don’t understand and you say to teacher I don’t understand and then like teacher  says what it mean.

Jesse: First you didn’t know that and then you write it then you know it. You think and then you know it now.

Chloe: When you do something, it is when you don’t normally do it and then you do it it like drawing.

Aoi: You can go to friend and friend says think and then you can learn to remember and your brain will get big.

Laetitia: Is like you the teacher teach you.

Diego: Learning is something new you don’t know. Someone can tell or you can use your fingers. You can figure it out.

Hayato: You don’t know, someone tells you and you know.

Ken: You like someone tells you, but you teach yourself how.

Sophia: You don’t know something, first you think yourself and then you can ask someone.

Mona: First you study and then you know.

Devano: You do something you don’t normally do and you do things you don’t know.


New Learning

 You can learn it by yourself or with people. You can learn from doing things. It is something new.

Ken: Stuff you don’t know and then you can do it.

Vita: You don’t know how to write something and then you write.

Erik: Is the teacher teaches you something new.

Devano: Your friends can teach you new stuff.

Chloe: Sometimes when you make a book.



Is asking questions because you want to know more about what you are thinking about.

Masaichi: You ask can you do it.

Jesse: You go to home and you want to eat and you wonder is there the ice cream.

Owen: My dad showed me a video about NASA, and I wondered how black holes were made.



It is about how we behave towards ourselves, the whole world and the universe.

Sophia It’s when you’re independent

Diego: It’s respecting

Ken: Not just people it is the whole universe

Hayato: It’s like being kind



They are something you can do to help you learn and help you do things.


I was scarred but I tried (this is a kind of learning the children added to the learning wall)

It helps you know you can do it and then you can learn new things.

Let’s go to the pond!

Jesse’s mum told us the toads had come to the pond and were laying eggs.  When we went two weeks ago there was nothing. We  went to explore.

First we discussed our responsibility for taking living things from their natural environment. Everyone agreed to the commitment needed to look after them… but how do you look after them?


Thank you Connie for the pictures


The children have been researching… we have toads eggs. The children came up with lots of sources of information (thank you to Ms Katy for all the work she did with us in library sessions)

  • Pebblego, Siri, Google, safari, You Tube (internet sources)
  • Books from the library
  • Ask grown ups
  • Ask kids who have looked after toads before

We have been learning about citing our sources if we take information. You can see this if you come to  the class. Thank you to Jimin for writing the title of the book, the author and the page number.

This is a great start to our new Unit of Inquiry, “All living things go through a process of change.”

Check out this weeks weekly round up for more information and video resources.

Sustained Play Leads To … Is It Good Enough For You Tube?

A group of children have been exploring designing weaponry. The constructions have become increasingly complex in design. This lead to playing “good verses evil” themed role play. Whilst this looked noisy and full of movement it also offered opportunities to explore equity. The next stage of the play became more complex with stories being acted out. The children made a very wobbly film.

At this stage we moved from observing the play to offering suggestions. We showed them how the sequence Brain Frame they use to plan could be used as a Story Board. The children liked the idea of making a ‘proper film’ and spent their own time planning the scenes. Next props were made and filming occurred. Unfortunately the sound quality was not good, so the children enrolled a cameraman.

The film was rerecorded. The children started to discuss what to do with the film. Their highest accolade was the thought that it could go on You Tube. There were cries of,  “No way!”. You Tube seemed unattainable, but dreams can come true… with the help of Mr Broughton we moved the video from seesaw to You Tube.