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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Classroom rules

Classroom rules

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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50 Replies 7525 Views
I am interested in how people feel about posting classroom rules. In my school we are required to have several things posted in our classrooms - these include the fire escape route, class schedule, and classroom rules. What do you think of posting classroom rules?

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Tina Olyai's picture
Tina Olyai
Director - Little Angels High School -Gwalior M.P.

All children need clear limits, boundaries, . Children need to know what is expected of them; this gives them a feeling of control within their environment...it's not so simple because there are rules to having rules!

All classrooms should have rules posted.
Rules should be simple which deal with Safety, Property, and Rights (this includes Kindness and Respect).
Rules should be few in number, but they may list what each one means. Example---Good rules are:

We are Loving!
We are Kind!
We Respect Ourselves, Others, and Property!
(These are the 3 rules -but under each rule- are bulleted the things that each rule means)

Rules should be stated in a positive manner, as in "We are Safe".
Do not use the word "No" preceding a rule, as in "No running"etc.
Safety Rules are not negotiable.
Do not have a rule if there is not a good reason for it.
Do not say "no" unless there is a good reason for it.
Important---go over each rule with the children so that they are aware of exactly what is expected of them...review and refer to them often! :-)

Audrey B's picture
Audrey B
High School English teacher Cromwell CT

My perspective may be different as a high school teacher, but it seems to me that students know how to behave in school. They may not behave in the correct manner, but they know. As a matter of form I go through a class norms/respect activity the first day, but the kids know the answers. Posting the rules does not lead to deep understanding and proper behavior. If that is your goal then recognizing positive behaviors and being fair and equitable go much further.

Carolyn Carter's picture

I have 3 rules in my class: Respect yourself, Respect others, Respect learning. It's easy for the students (and me) to remember, it emphasizes the basis of good behavior which is respect and it includes the students' feelings about themselves as a component of the classroom management system. I never have problems with discipline even though I am by myself in a class with 35 adult men at the county jail. No, the sheriffs are not in the class watching. It is just me and my rules at work.

Carolyn

Ann Hyde's picture
Ann Hyde
Special Ed English teacher, Anchorage, Alaska

I have all of the school required rules posted (no cell phones, tardy and truancy policies, no food, etc), and then I have expectations for my classes. On the first day of school, I ask the kids to look them over, and then ask if it's any different from all of their other school experiences. They all agree that they know how they are supposed to behave, and then we talk about how some of the rules may be different from middle school, and how they earn more privileges as they get older. It's a fairly quick discussion, and I generally have very few problems throughout the year.

Chris Niemoeller's picture
Chris Niemoeller
Director/Coach at community supplementary educational service

I took your question to be how teachers feel about whether or not rules should be posted. This caused me to consider two items separately, the "posting" and the "rules."

Placing a poster on a wall is a form of passively communicating information. Referring to the document to introduce, discuss, and reinforce the information improves the effectiveness of a poster because of the interactions. As a side note, in my observations as a literacy coach, staff development coordidnator, and consultant, I have repeatedly seen the effect of providing information on posters be greatly diminished because of font sizes that are too small to be easily read by students or because of ineffective placement. Also, I read recently the results of a study that determined a change in the learning environment can have a positive effect on the ability to recall learning. While not part of the study, I wondered about those classrooms where posters remain stationary all year, or longer, and become invisible over time.

The use of "rules" appears to assist with establishing behavior parameters. Whether they are called rules or expectations, it seems that class leaders/teachers gain a level of comfort with a defined list of shoulds or should nots. However, the existence of the list leads to additional considerations. Once a list of rules is created, whether autocratically by the teacher or collaboratively by a classroom community, there are the consequences to be considered for obeying or diverting from the expectations. Next there is the step in the progression when some class members disregard parameters and ignore consequences disrupting the flow of learning for themselves and others. Then the focus becomes behavior management plans or motivation plans.

I began teaching at the middle school level and believed in joint ownership by students, teachers, and supporting members (families, volunteers, etc.) of the learning, and that therefore learning is a shared responsibility by all. Using Driekers and Glass philosophies, I created A.R.C.H.way, a program to promote a learning environment through the mantra, All Rights Cherished Here to Learn. Everything fell under this one guide, and any issues were brought to class meetings for discussion and resolution. Over time, we built a community of individuals who (1) understood that the goal was to learn and (2) accepted more responsibility for reaching it.

So, I think the question is much larger than to post or not to post rules. Best wishes.

Chris Niemoeller's picture
Chris Niemoeller
Director/Coach at community supplementary educational service

I took your question to be how teachers feel about whether or not rules should be posted. This caused me to consider two items separately, the "posting" and the "rules."

Placing a poster on a wall is a form of passively communicating information. Referring to the document to introduce, discuss, and reinforce the information improves the effectiveness of a poster because of the interactions. As a side note, in my observations as a literacy coach, staff development coordidnator, and consultant, I have repeatedly seen the effect of providing information on posters be greatly diminished because of font sizes that are too small to be easily read by students or because of ineffective placement. Also, I read recently the results of a study that determined a change in the learning environment can have a positive effect on the ability to recall learning. While not part of the study, I wondered about those classrooms where posters remain stationary all year, or longer, and become invisible over time.

The use of "rules" appears to assist with establishing behavior parameters. Whether they are called rules or expectations, it seems that class leaders/teachers gain a level of comfort with a defined list of shoulds or should nots. However, the existence of the list leads to additional considerations. Once a list of rules is created, whether autocratically by the teacher or collaboratively by a classroom community, there are the consequences to be considered for obeying or diverting from the expectations. Next there is the step in the progression when some class members disregard parameters and ignore consequences disrupting the flow of learning for themselves and others. Then the focus becomes behavior management plans or motivation plans.

I began teaching at the middle school level and believed in joint ownership by students, teachers, and supporting members (families, volunteers, etc.) of the learning, and that therefore learning is a shared responsibility by all. Using Driekers and Glass philosophies, I created A.R.C.H.way, a program to promote a learning environment through All Rights Cherished Here to Learn. Everything fell under this one guide, and any issues were brought to class meetings for discussion and resolution. Over time, we built a community of individuals who (1) understood that the goal was to learn and (2) accepted more responsibility for reaching it.

So, I think the question is much larger than to post or not to post rules. Best wishes.

David Ginsburg's picture
David Ginsburg
Instructional Coach, Leadership Coach, Math Specialist

Check out my recent post on Teacher Magazine, As a Rule, Forget About Rules, for several reasons to de-emphasize classroom rules. And look for a follow up post on this topic next week.

Corah's picture

[quote]
I wonder, does the example activity give the students too much input into the rule-making process?[/quote]

I had my 4th grade students create what they thought the classroom rules should be at their table groups, we then recombined as a whole class and I put up all their rules on the board. We combined similar rules by voting on the one we thought was the most all-encompassing. The rules that all the groups came up with were remarkably similar and were ones that I would want in my classroom. I did have to do quite a lot of guiding them to put them in the positive as there were a lot of 'do nots'.

Ariane Manning's picture
Ariane Manning
Traveling Preschool Teacher (Coast Guard Wife)

I am torn between posting rules or not so this year in my preschool classroom I created a bulletin board depicting our "classroom guidelines" they are:
Be Kind
Be a Good Friend
Help Others
Take Turns
Be a good Listener
Say "Please" and "Thank You"

There are "Rules" that come up as the school year progresses such as walking or galloping feet only in the classroom
cleaning up before moving to new areas
etc.
...things like that, that i don't feel need to be posted in my classroom but the children will gradually learn and will no longer need reminding...

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