Step Two: Classroom Rules

This is step two in my summer goal to create a comprehensive classroom management plan.

Something I never thought I would have to say as a high school teacher: “Stop playing with the scissors/glue.” Yikes. Other things I had to say a lot were, “get off your cell phone,” “stop talking,” and “pay attention.” All of which would fall under ‘off-task behaviors.’ I had students drawing and writing and playing games and doing work for other classes. All of which comes down to them being off-task. I suppose I never thought I needed to communicate the expectation of being on-task because they are high schoolers and should know better. These are teens who are close to adulthood, so I had the idea to treat them like adults. I should not have done this. They have no idea how to be adults. My goal should be to teach them how to be adults.

The first step is to think of traits I value in others. Then possibly get more specific and turn the traits into a guideline for success. Last is to identify a behavior – what does that trait look like to me – and turn that behavior into a rule.

I value when others are respectful. More specifically, I want my students to have mutual respect and understanding with each other. To me, that means complimenting and encouraging others, no matter what. It also means when someone else is talking, it’s important to “listen to listen, not to respond.”

I value when others are patient. Not just with others, but when themselves too. To me, this looks like saying things like “I can do this,” and “I will get there,” when starting to feel discouraged. A simpler rule might be “Always Try,” instead of getting so lengthy with the rule. I’ll have to get input on this one.

I value when others are open-minded. In the classroom, I specifically value students being open-minded about what they learn, how they learn, and how others learn. This looks like changing your thinking based on learning new information. It also means researching something on your own that you’re not sure about. It means understanding that others learn differently from you and that doesn’t make them wrong.

I value a sense of responsibility. Not just with work, but also with improving yourself. Being responsible in the classroom looks like keeping up with missed work and being prepared for class before the bell. Which means having all materials on your desk and ready to work. It also means you only pick up supplies when using them and put them away when done. As in, don’t play with the glue, just use it and then put it away. Self-improvement in the classroom means staying persistent when you don’t understand something the first time.

I value when people are focused. Specifically, I think successful people are able to be focused on where they are and what they are doing. This looks like putting away distractions, such as cell phones. Since I will have a policy for where to put phones that will be part of a routine, I don’t think I need to list it as a rule. This will keep my list of rules shorter for students to remember. Listen to listen and not to respond also falls under staying focused.

  1. Listen to listen, not to respond.
  2. Always try
  3. Compliment and encourage yourself and others daily.
  4. Keep track of missed work.
  5. Be prepared for class before the bell rings.
  6. Pick up supplies only when needed and put away when done.

Notice that none of these specific behaviors are negative – as in none of them say “No __________.” I won’t say “no cellphones” as a rule, I’ll say “put cellphones away.” I won’t say “don’t insult one another,” I’ll say “compliment and encourage others.” It’s important to me that my rules be in a positive tone instead of a negative one. Easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar and whatnot. I want to promote a positive and encouraging atmosphere, and that starts with the rules I set.

What are some traits that you value in others?

What does that look like?

What is one (or more) of your personal guidelines for success?

I would love to read any thoughts, inputs, or reflections that you have on positive traits, what helps a person be successful, and what rules help promote those traits. I would also love feedback on the rules I have drafted here.

Parents, what rules do you want to be enforced in the classroom?

Teachers, what rules do you have in place that have worked well for you?

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