Rules For Creating Rules
It’s that time of year again when teachers agonise over rules and procedures for their classroom.
Classroom management starts with having clear behaviour rules that are fixed and non-negotiable.
These differ from your classroom procedures which can be adapted to account for individual differences and circumstances.
Rules are rules with no grey areas. They are made not to be messed with so they need careful thought. They are best made for things you will not tolerate (e.g. racism) and for things that cannot happen by mistake (e.g. hitting).
You can have procedures as long as your arm and that’s fine but when it comes to rules then focus on these key concepts:
- Limit the number of rules
- State the rules simply using positive language.
- Consider the consequences.
If you have too many rules then you will regret it.
Ten rules is way too many because you’ve got to enforce them and the consequences can get complicated. Too many rules stifles creativity and boxes everyone in and that does nothing for creating rapport and healthy relationships. Some teachers go the other way and have a one-rule policy but that’s a hard one to define. Some create rules with their children and give them ownership but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
The rules you select have to be clear and comprehensible, because, as Linsin (2013) says, “ambiguity and confusion are the enemies of effective classroom management.”
So which rules do you create?
Michael Linsin is the founder of Smart Classroom Management and he recommends the following four rules. He says these are the perfect set of classroom rules because they have proven effective time and time again in thousands of classrooms in different contexts:
- Listen and follow directions.
- Raise your hand before speaking and leaving your seat.
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
- Respect your classmates and your teacher.
That’s it. Just four and they work, they really do…..if you model them. And that’s precisely what Linsin suggests,
Model those rules so there are no misunderstandings about what they mean, and what behaviors they cover. You would model from your perspective as the teacher and as a student, so you may be sitting in a student’s chair with the students surrounding you showing them precisely how to raise their hands.