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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 6663 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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Britt Pumphrey's picture
Britt Pumphrey
5th grade teacher from inner city Kansas City

I have two general guidelines for things I post around my room: First, it should be something student created or created with students. Second, if I expect them to know it, it should be posted for at least some period of time.

That being said, I think classroom rules should be posted. It is very important that the rules are positive and simple. The three rules in my classroom are, "be responsible", "work hard", and "be respectful". They cover my expectations for my students in every situation we will encounter during the year, whether it's homework or test taking or presenting.

I also post an extra rule for myself, "everyone learns". I tell the students that everything I do in the classroom is to fulfill that rule for myself.

I establish the rules on the second day of school and then have students set individual goals for each one as we discuss what they mean.

As the year progresses we spend some time creating goals for the whole class around the rules. Mid-year we revisit the individual goals and the class goals and we develop a plan to finish out the year strong.

Tracie Weisz's picture
Tracie Weisz
Middle School teacher from Alaska

Britt - you make the comment "they cover my expectations..." which brings up an interesting point that I wonder about - Are rules and expectations two different things? I agree that the kinds of things you post are definitely expectations. I may just be hung up on semantics here, but I think expectations say something larger than what most of us usually agree are school "rules".

Larry Ferlazzo's picture
Larry Ferlazzo
I teach English & Social Studies at inner-city high school in Sacramento,CA
Blogger 2014
Facilitator 2014

I don't necessarily post "rules," but I do post a list of qualities that research shows that good learners share. You can read about how I use them here here.

Tracie, I think there is a difference between expectations and rules. I don't know how to articulate it but, like the Supreme Court said about pornography, "I know it when I see it."

Tracie Weisz's picture
Tracie Weisz
Middle School teacher from Alaska

haha - good point Larry! I guess when I think of "rules" I tend to think of rules for playing a game - like the rules for hockey. There are a very specific, narrow set of actions you can and cannot do. Players are expected to play by the rules, and there are referees who are constantly enforcing those rules of play. There is always a swift, immediate, punitive consequence for breaking the rules of play. I have actually seen these types of rules (and swift, immediate, punitive consequences) posted in many classrooms.

Stephen Hurley's picture
Stephen Hurley
Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman
Blogger 2014

[quote]
That being said, I think classroom rules should be posted. It is very important that the rules are positive and simple. The three rules in my classroom are, "be responsible", "work hard", and "be respectful". They cover my expectations for my students in every situation we will encounter during the year, whether it's homework or test taking or presenting.
I also post an extra rule for myself, "everyone learns". I tell the students that everything I do in the classroom is to fulfill that rule for myself.
[/quote]

Britt, I like the fact that if feels like your classroom is a shared learning space: shared with you and your students. The "rules" in your class are positive and inviting, and don't come across as being attempts to reinforce the relationships of power and authority that every student in middle school has come to understand on some level.

Stephen

William Gripentrog's picture

I just think that I have better use for my limited classroom wall space. I post my rules on my wiki and give the students a handout of the "rules" with my syllabus the first day.

I just find posting rules/expectations kind of redundant. Aren't all expectations just what we want to do as good human beings? If not, what are they doing as rules in the classroom?

Tracie Weisz's picture
Tracie Weisz
Middle School teacher from Alaska

William - That goes back to my original question about what to post on the classroom wall -is it rules of the game? a list of what good human beings do? I think of expectations more as something that we are always encouraging - we may not even give a name to them or list them, but they are types of behaviors that we value partly because of the favorable environment they create. I have expectations for my own children. I don't post these around the house anywhere, and I don't list them off. But by using my own behavior as a guide, talking and reinforcing when the opportunities arise, and encouraging certain ways of thinking through problems, I think that I make my expectations clear to them. I think we can be mindful in this same way with our students, but we have to be clear of our expectations for them in our own minds so we can go about reinforcing our expectations in a consistent way. I think sometimes people get to hung up on "rules" - specific behaviors - and are not looking at how they are guiding the bigger picture. I believe we all have certain "expectations" of our students, but I wonder how mindfully we go about communicating those.

Alice Mercer's picture
Alice Mercer
Elementary Computer Lab Teacher

I think asking on how useful it is to post something the class should have learned or mastered all year long is good question.

I have new kids coming in all year long, and I always have, so am I teaching kids rules an procedures on and off the entire year. At the same time, since I teach all grades at the school, I'm going on my third year with some students. If you have a relatively stable student population, it may not be necessary to post them all year long.

I like having the rules there to refer to when things "go wrong". Since my rules are general, treat the computer equipment gently, be respectful, I go through examples at the beginning of the year with students. I like to have the rules posted as a reference for when I need to discuss situations with students. Again, this is often more necessary with students who are new.

In addition, I have rules and procedures posted on my student blogs, and ask new students to view a slideshow on their first trip to the lab.

As with most things, I think you really have to look at the context of your classroom and figure out what makes sense. If your administrators are telling you that you must post those, your not going to have a lot of flexibility.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture
Heather Wolpert-Gawron
Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night
Blogger 2014

The only school rule that I am required to post is this:
"No gum chewing"
I mean, can it get less important then that? The heart of the rule is really about coming to the table, ready to work, ready to be respectful. I can't say that I post explicit rules as much as I consistently follow them myself, model, and expect my students to follow them as well. Modeling has far more impact then any pre-fab chart. Just because a sign exists does not mean that students respect that sign. I see kids scraping gum for detention often, having chewed it in some teacher's class, while I continue to not have that problem. Is it because of the sign? No. It's because our classroom environment is one of respect. Oh, yeah. And I don't care that much about gum chewing as long as learning is happening. I pick my battles, after all.
-Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Jason Flom's picture
Jason Flom
Director-Elect in Tallahassee, FL

We use our basic motto, KISS, when it comes to establishing our classroom norms each year. Without fail, of all the "rules" the students come up with on the first day of school, we are usually able boil them down to these three:

Respect:
1. Yourself.
2. Others.
3. Resources.

As students explore the concept of "Respect" more, they begin to see Social Responsibility as falling under these categories and tend to be excited for service learning projects that they see as being the leading edge of using their rules to leave a positive footprint on their community.

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