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Classroom rules

Classroom rules

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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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Rebecca Alber's picture
Rebecca Alber
Edutopia Consulting Online Editor

After a few years teaching, I realized the difference between these two things: rules have consequences and procedures have reminders. As the years went on, my rule list got shorter and shorter and my procedures list was quite long. Sometimes spelling out to students exactly what you expect when they: go to sharpen their pencil, need to ask a question, come in late, etc. will solve future rule breaking.

One last thing, writing rules always as positives, and avoiding using the word "no" is a good rule for rules. : )

Macky Cassidy's picture
Macky Cassidy
Seventh grade Eastern Hemisphere Studies teacher from Wasilla, Alaska.

My school implements a behavior program called Make Your Day. This is a behavior system that allows students to internally reflect on their behavior and choices in the classroom. With this program comes ONE rule, the whole middle school uses this one rule, No one has the right to interfere with the learning, safety, or well being of another student. This rule is ALL encompassing, and makes every teacher's life easier. If a student is tapping on the desk, he/she is interfering with another students learning, if a student hits another student safety is being interfered with, and bullying/teasing interferes with the well-being of someone. With this rule comes choices that are to be made my each student whether or not they want to make the choice to have good day, or a bad day. I have been pleased with this one rule system.

vera lewis's picture

classroom rules are required for my school, however I list mines in the first person. After discussing with the students the goals and tasks of the list I listed the tasks in the first person making the students responsible for their own actions and consequences.Examples:I will be on time for class. If I am absent I will bring in the required note from my parents giving the reasons for being absent.etc.If behavior continues parent will be notified(parent, teacher and student sign the agreement)student will be counselled by the teacher,student team effort. If those failed, guidance counsellor etc which will include the school administration and withdrawal of priviledge according to the situation Vera

kim printz's picture

i keep my "rules" short and sweet. use good judgement; respect others and yourself. we spend a good amount of time at the beginning of school discussing expectations, rules, and just what good judgement is.

i love to read my students the poem/rap from nanci atwell's first edition of "in the middle" about rules. it really sets the tone -- especially since it is written by a student.

Jean WAGGONER's picture

Teachers need to take time at the start of a semester going over expectations and getting student buy-in to "rules" and expectations. Time to Teach ( offers some good advice on the subject of promoting greater learning through mutual respect. I teach at community college level and even there, a lack of agreement on the most basic expectations (feet off the tables, no food or sticky drinks in the classroom, points off for late papers, etc.), whether they are school's or the teacher's rules, can cause problems. Some of our students were home schooled in their PJs and slippers and did their work lying down, so we really can't assume they've learned the most basic of civilized behaviors. Even in the area of toilet training, I've noticed college bathroom postings of "Toilet Training 101" with such advice as "Throw used toilet paper in the toilet, not on the floor," and "Do not stand on the toilet seat." I work in California where some of what I consider polite might be seen as class or ethnic "prejudice," but if not I, who will build student awareness of expectations for upward mobility?

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

Sometimes the more outside-the-box a rule is, the more responsive students are to it. This isn't to say you should create wacky rules just for the sake of being different. But any time you come up with a rule students will abide by and find lighthearted, go for it. Check out my blog posts Rise and Shine and Preventing Profanity With Peace and Love for two of my rules that were great for classroom control and culture.

Meghan's picture

I believe in posting classroom rules up on the wall because they are an easy reminder for the children. Not to mention, it makes it easier to refer to. I think it is imperative to hold a discussion with the children on the first day of school that covers why we have rules. The conversation has the children debating the importance of rules and what are rules should be in the classroom. The students create the rules (with my help) and I post them after they sign them. By signing them, they agree to follow the rules in which they helped create. This gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility. Children need to know they have a safe place to come to, especially when they do not have that at home. I highly recommed you keep the rules short, but make sure they have a clear understanding of them. I would then discuss expectations as they tie into the topic.

Dianna Hayden's picture

My first year teaching, I posted my rules on the wall based on advice from a 40 year teaching veteran: my mother. I found that posting rules did not work for me. I had a terrible class and if I reprimanded them for something unusual(like throwing a book across the room), they looked to the rules and said "that's not mentioned in the rules." And being inexperienced I did not handle the situation well. I found that for more difficult classes, it was best for me to list expectations in the syllabus and not on the walls. Of course, my mother disagrees with my position. With the beginning of school we actually discussed this today!

Elizabeth Woodfield's picture

This year, I have only two rules stolen entirely from the KIPP (charter) schools: Work hard and Be nice. On the first day of school, I told my 5th graders those were the two rules. Then, we discussed what each one looked, smelled, walked, and talked like. Now, when a rule is broken, I ask, "What rule did you break?" Then I ask, "How did you break it?" The student immediately knows what she or he did that was unacceptable. So far, it's working out just fine. I like it because there's no splitting of hairs over "well that's not a posted rule so I didn't know we couldn't do it."

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