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When people think of etiquette, they think of little old ladies with white gloves and shawls---as if the only people who pay attention or care about etiquette would be of a certain age. However, etiquette isn’t about being “stuffy.”  Etiquette’s specific rules of do’s and don’ts are perfect for middle school students. Etiquette is a clear, measurable set of social rules to guide the socially awkward.  Middle school students want to fit in and be treated like an adult, but they often go about it the wrong way.  Imagine a middle school girl walking down the hallway, shouting and squealing.  When asked to act like a young lady,she shouts at the top of her voice… “I AM a lady!”…as she drags her nails along the hallway wall. A lack of social conscience runs rampant in middle school as students struggle to discover who they are and how they fit into the world.   

Middle school students often act immature and self-centered.  Their behavior can bring out the worst behaviors in us, as teachers.  We exhaust ourselves running around trying to defuse petty issues that get in the way of effectively teaching our students.  We could blame the students, we could relish in our grumpiness, we could be condescending, we could complain by saying things like, “They should know this by now!”…but do they?  Did we ever explicitly outline for our students the expected behavior?  Did we tell them not to _______________________?  Seems silly, right?  They should know it by now.  But the fact is, many don’t.  And we could be grumpy and complain, or we could do something about it.       

 Our experience with other classroom management plans is that they tend to be “reactive,” whereas etiquette is a more proactive approach. Additionally, etiquette is clear and measurable.  It is an exact model of how to behave and be respected by others.  Other behavior management techniques are limited and vague or too broad, and as a result are unclear for students.  Etiquette is observable.

 Etiquette does not challenge the morals or expectations at home---etiquette teaches students how to conduct themselves in a public setting and not look foolish.   

So, how does all this fit in a standards-driven educational setting?  First of all, if you can eliminate the discipline issues in the classroom setting, more time can be focused on teaching and learning.  Time in the classroom will be more effectively utilized.  Secondly, it only takes 5 minutes a day to implement an etiquette-conscience classroom environment.  We will also show you how etiquette is a great way to use non-fiction reading in the classroom.  Additionally, the way we suggest implementing etiquette into the classroom targets the higher level thinking and questioning of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Evaluating and Creating).  Finally, while etiquette doesn’t attach to a specific standard, we don’t just teach standards.  We teach students.  As teachers, we want to help create better human beings.
 

Top Etiquette Student Tea Party 2011

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