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Of course, we are the adults…so we have to push that longing to sunbathe in the grass at recess or take a nap after lunch aside and kick our school manners into high gear.If you are a warm demander, you have high expectations for respect and appropriate behavior the moment your students walk through the door each morning. But let’s be honest, sprinkling a little humor into your introduction of classroom expectations helps to ease those first day nerves and build an environment of trust and comfort from the get-go.
One of my favorite tools for doing just that, is the book Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller. In this lighthearted book, Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are otters…a species he knows nothing about. With the guidance of wise Mr. Owl, Mr. Rabbit learns how to be a good friend and neighbor by simply following the Golden Rule – “Do unto otters as you would have otters doo-dee-doo unto you!”
After giggling through this read aloud, you can lead right into a talk about the Golden Rule and begin gathering ideas for what your students expect their classmates to “doo-dee-doo” to make this school year a success.
In our classroom, we create an anchor chart titled “Ways We Will Show R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” using the ideas introduced in Keller’s book as a starting point. Having the students brainstorm and record ways we will show respect is a great way to build buy-in and set a high standard for respectful behavior in the classroom from day 1.
Year after year, I am impressed by the staying power of this approach to introducing behavior expectations in the elementary classroom. I hope you enjoy the same benefits of using this book and the idea of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. in your own classroom.
For more ideas about incorporating read alouds into your back to school lesson plans, check out all of our Books Teachers Love posts for August here.