WINNIPEG -- Students creating a classroom list of rules and codes of conduct are a common part of returning to school, especially in the younger years.

Now, an elementary classroom teacher in Winnipeg has brought in a unique way to symbolize the rules of the classroom and how they can relate to students.

Sarah Martens, a Grade 4/5 teacher at Luxton School, had her students create a medicine wheel for her classroom to begin the school year, an idea she had in her head since last year.

"Usually when I do class rules or expectations, we'll do a classroom treaty or something like that," said Martens, who is Metis.

"This year, we're really trying to focus on social and emotional well-being, because we were out of school for so long. We hadn't seen the kids for six months, so that is why I decided to do something with the medicine wheel, since it incorporates mind, body, spirit, and heart."

Martens began the lesson with a video on the medicine wheel, and had the students write in their journals of things in the classroom they could think of that would fit in each section. Their responses are posted on the wheel.

medicine wheel

(Students add messages to the medicine wheel. Source: Sarah Martens)

"Some of them had a hard time, because all four work cohesively together that we could've put it in any category," she said.

Martens added, "It really, I think, stood out to them, how all four worked together."

Some of the items on the wheel include wearing masks (under the body section), reading books (under mind), being friendly and supportive (under heart), and having a positive attitude (under spirit).

medicine wheel

(Source: Sarah Martens)

"I thought the most difficult one for them would have been spirit, because that one is kind of the most abstract," said Martens. "But actually, that was the one that impressed me most, with some of the ideas they came up with for spirit."

Martens said almost two-thirds of her 21 students are Indigenous.

medicine wheel

(Students add messages to the medicine wheel Source: Sarah Martens)

"I had a new student start (Monday morning), and he walked in and pointed to it right away, and he is Indigenous, and he said 'that's a medicine wheel,'" she said. "We actually talked about it this morning with him, and he wants to add something himself that he can put up there too. It's been really wonderful."

Martens posted photos of the medicine wheel on Twitter as a way to encourage more Indigenous teaching in the classroom.

medicine wheel

(The medicine wheel is placed on the classroom wall. Source: Sarah Martens)