Care and responsibility

6th June 2003 at 01:00
At the start of each new year, I used circle time to devise rules with my pupils. We wrote our rules on the whiteboard, using positive language. For example: "We will care for the books and return them to the correct place when we are finished," rather than: "Don't rip the books or leave them lying around."

We kept the number down so they were attainable. I wrote them on a large piece of paper, and stained it with coffee to give it an antique look. The children "signed" it, then I put on a wax seal and called it our class contract. Having this on display reminds us of our rules, and if any are broken, we draw the culprit's attention to them.

As a reward for good behaviour I use the "marble jar" technique. At the start of each week, I have an empty jar (you could use a tin or pot) . When the class does something well together, I place a marble in the jar. At the end of the week the marbles are added up. We turn each marble into one minute and they have free choice for that time. Make it harder as the year progresses and, for a surprise, say the marbles aren't minutes but are biscuits, sweets or a party. This works because the whole class has to do the good work so it reinforces positive behaviour.

Gillian Sekatawa teachers specialist art at Maseru English medium preparatory school in Lesotho, southern Africa. She is about to finish her third contract at the school and return to Norfolk. Have you any tips for new teachers? We pay pound;50 for all tips published. Email:

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