Creating Classroom Culture

You've heard the saying that you can't teach subjects until students know you care. This year, especially after the last two years of uncertainty and inconsistency in schools, it is even more crucial to build connections, community and develop a caring class culture.
Our school year began last week and instead of focusing on class rules, students brainstormed for their "dream classroom": what it would look like, what the content would be, projects, even how students would act and treat each other. They wrote ideas on individual sticky notes then in groups, kids determined whether their ideas were realistic or unrealistic (recess all day and soda fountains; LOL) We sorted their sticky notes into categories:
Next, I asked, "What do want to be known for? What do we value and believe in?" We started with the definition of a mission statement, then looked at our own school mission statement. Next, we reviewed several other well-known company mission statements and discussed common words. You can download the sample mission statements I used here.
In groups, students worked to come up with a sample class mission statement, then presented them to the class. We've been discussing having a Growth Mindset all week, as well as many of the ideas behind mathematical mindsets, so it was interesting that most of the sample missions statements did not include specific learning about subject or grades. (I thought many of the kids would focus on getting good grades, so I was pleased when they did not!)
We identified and listed words that were used multiple times. From there, we wrote one class mission statement. The kids were thrilled (they felt very grown-up) and agreed that our mission statement represented what we wanted our class to stand for. I'm going to enlarge it into a poster and the kids have asked to sign it! 
I love that students took ownership for our new class mission statement; they all have buy-in. Do you post class rules or allow students to create behavioral expectations?

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