I am a huge fan of simplicity. For that matter, I love the idea of having no classroom rules. However, I know some people don’t operate that way.
Great teachers can be found in both camps. But whether or not we feel it necessary to tie our students down with rules, the greatest commonality between all great teachers is that they have clear, concise, and comprehensive expectations for their students and they communicate them in such a way that every student is aware of what is right and wrong.
My school has a list of something like 12 school-wide classroom rules. That is way overboard for me, but I dutifully posted them on the wall in the classroom as I’ve been told to do.
I’ve experimented in the past with various types of rules, but I have found that as I communicate behavioral expectations more clearly, rules are less necessary. I don’t have a written policy that says “you must raise your hand before getting out of your seat.” Why? Two reasons…
- Most every classroom the students have ever been in have a variation of that rule.
- There are times when that rule doesn’t apply. Think fire drill. Once a rule is broken, it retains much less effectiveness.
When I begin the year, we discuss behavior. We discuss how I’m not going to insult their intelligence by putting a list up on the wall explaining standard classroom procedures. They know that they should raise they hand and wait before speaking. They know that they shouldn’t just wander around the room without permission. They know how to behave in a normal classroom.
Obviously this kind of scenario wouldn’t work in a Kindergarten classroom or lower grades in elementary. So what do you do in those situations?
I would suggest something like:
- Be respectful
- Be responsible
- Follow directions
To simplify even further:
- Be kind
- Be good