Head’s Corner

Culture vs. Rules

Looks Like, Sounds Like, Feels Like

The “Looks Like, Sounds Like, Feels Like” Y-chart is one of the greatest tools I have ever seen that incorporates students’ voices to establish a desired classroom culture. It is simple to set-up and can be used beyond the classroom. Simply make a Y on a large piece of paper and ask your participants to describe what a great classroom, loving family, or productive workplace looks like, sounds like, and feels like. This Y-chart can be used in a variety of situations where you are looking for stakeholder participation and voice.


What I like most about the Y-chart is it establishes a culture. It focuses on our senses- what one might hear in a great classroom or how one might feel being in that classroom. It does not try to create a culture by external forces, such as rules and policies. What’s better is that it speaks to our internal motivations, building those ethical judgement “muscles.” Instead of a student thinking I should not do that because of rule “x,” they begin to think about things they need to do to create the classroom they described.


A class that created the Y-chart pictured above would have very little need for many, if any, rules. Take a close look at the chart, this time thinking of issues that might arise in a classroom. Are any of them not addressed? I would venture to guess there are very few.

Could this classroom run without any rules? Would it be a more creative place? Would those students understand how to self-regulate, how to be independent? What other behaviors would it generate?

What about Saklan? Tell me what does a great school look like, sound like, and feel like? I would love to hear your thoughts. Follow this link and share your ideas. I will share them back with you in two weeks.

With gratitude,


P.S. Rosie is the classroom’s Skinny Pig.

Author: The Saklan School Friday Blog

The Saklan School is a private Pre-K through 8 school located in Moraga, CA. Our mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously.

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