Ideas for Classroom Rules
Classroom rules set the tone for the year. There are different philosophies concerning the development of classroom rules. One philosophy is to have well developed, clearly written out rules. Another philosophy is to keep classroom rules simple. The latter is the philosophy to which I adhere. The following are three strategies to do this.
- Have Only a Few Rules
I suggest having only about three to five rules with three being the ideal number. Here’s why.
- Fewer rules allow you to stress and concentrate on what’s really important. There’s an old saying that you should pick your battles. Do not set so many rules you cannot enforce them all. None of your rules will mean anything as time goes on. Also, you don’t want to spend your valuable energy dealing with students over trivial things.
- Fewer rules allow you to help students focus on behaviors that are necessary for learning. Some so called “behavioral issues” have no impact whatsoever on student learning. Deal with these things at a later time. Do not stop class to write referrals or spend an inordinate amount of time confronting students with them because you have it as against the rules.
- Fewer rules are easier for students to remember. It’s important that they know the rules in order to follow them.
- Having fewer rules that are more general allow you to encompass more possible infractions with fewer words, rather than trying to write down all of the things students may do wrong.
- Keep Your Rules Simple
State your rules in a manner everyone understands. Each student should be able to tell you immediately in their own words what the rule means. Long sentences that require thought and contemplation are not helpful.
If a student has to stop and think about a rule, there will be problems. Also, each rule should be stated as a positive. For instance, a simple rule, such as showing respect, is very easy to understand. Rules that start with “Do not” and “Never” can set a negative tone. The only time those terms should be used is when warning of danger. Keep your rules simple, but short and positive.
- Your Rules Should Be Reasonable
In other words, the rules should make sense. When students see a rule, they should automatically know why that is a rule in your classroom. If the rules match the environment and situation, students will have a better chance to understand and agree with the rules, and therefore, follow them. There should be discussions of the rules from time to time to remind everyone not only what the rules are, but why they are in place.
My friend, rules should facilitate instruction. Classroom teachers with many rules spend much of their time dealing with those rules. Do you really want to create more confrontations with students? Here are three rules to consider.
- Be respectful.
- Listen to the teacher.
- Act like a champion.