The Golden Rule(s)
“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.