Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Golden Rule(s)

I was recently asked by a reader about my rule policy. The Vegas Art Guy asked:

“Did you have lots of rules that you enforced or did you just have a few set in stone that were never to be broken?”

One of my biggest mistakes as a first year teacher was to copy the rules that another teacher had posted in their classroom, and merely hang them up in my room. The rules were the classic set; keep your hands to yourself, ask if you need to leave the classroom, no cursing…etc. I referred to the “class rules” a few times during the first few days of school…but didn’t review them nearly enough. And I suffered all year for it. When veteran teachers advise new teachers to really spend three weeks going over class procedure—they have the right idea! A month spent early in the year on giving students orientation and limits saves so much time in the end!

This year I started the students off with discussing the difference between rules and expectations, and we came up as a class with a set of classroom expectations. The first day we came up with general classroom expectations, the following day we came up with fair computer expectations and the next day we did the same for quiz/test expectations. We did it all, as a class and expressed both teacher and student’s issues with the limits. The only issue is the idea of rules is so ingrained in my mind, I keep slipping up and trying to call the expectations rules and have to be corrected.

The classroom rules we came up with were:

I will not be pressured by the bad behavior of others.
I will allow other the personal space to succeed.
I will respect myself and others.

It’s three umbrella expectations that all other rules fall under. We discussed as a class what respect is, what it sounds like, and looks like…and really gave a depth of though to what is expected in class from both staff and students. (I’m sure my paraprofessionals were thrilled when I mentioned that classroom rules were meant for both students and staff) And even though it’s still the honeymoon period I’ve noticed a huge difference between my student’s actions this year. It’s a smaller amount of rules, so I think they’re easier to manage…but I also have a separate form of rules for different procedures in the class. And the main three are set in stone.


Blogger david hayes said...

Sounds like a solid system.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger The Vegas Art Guy said...

Three weeks huh? I'd love to see those lesson plans. Seriously...

Thursday, September 13, 2007 8:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool. :) It's a little different with the little ones...we have the basics and just explain them for our kids. But I've spent a lot of time going over them because I keep getting new kids. Fun!!

Friday, September 14, 2007 7:33:00 AM  
Blogger Geoff said...

i try and do the same thing with the rules, my only problem is that there are days when i get bored with reviewing rules so i sometimes skip them...

actually, looking back, my "first day spiel" has changed a lot from my first year...

my first year was about class community and about who i was, and now its the classroom rules, consequences, and how i run the show

Friday, September 14, 2007 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous joycemocha said...

In our school, we review the school rules and behavioral expectations throughout the entire first week, and then reteach thing (through the whole school) after winter break and spring break.

We've been doing PBS for 4/5 years, and this is the year it's really falling together. Of course, our numbers are also down, so that might be a factor.

I actually spend less time on expectations after the first week and a lot more time on positive feedback. The PBS rule is 3 positives for every negative, and I'm really working on it this year.

So far, so good. But it's only been two weeks.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 5:52:00 PM  
Anonymous yo miss!, formerly in bushwick said...

I just wanted to say hi, as a fellow C12er, and encourage you. Reading your last few entries shows so much growth in you--you clearly have learned a lot and are putting it to work. I loved your nametag idea.

Keep it up! :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007 7:49:00 AM  

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