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What are some effective classroom rules that you have applied?

These are the rules of several teachers

I won’t talk over students. I rarely raise my voice above a normal “presenter” volume.

If students start talking while I’m trying to teach, I just stop and wait for them to finish. What doesn’t get done in class just becomes homework. I stare at the people who are having the side conversation until they stop. That way everyone else knows what I’m waiting for.

They learn to stop talking and listen pretty quickly. The chattiest ones quickly feel the peer pressure to knock it off and pay attention.

A similar thing happens when we’re lining up to go to lunch. We have to line up quietly to pray before lunch. (It’s a Catholic school.) We don’t leave for lunch until we pray, and we don’t pray until we’re quiet. I don’t shout at them to get them to stop talking. I just wait. If they waste their lunch time, that’s their problem. It’s not my lunch time. I eat during my planning period before that, so I’m not even hungry.

Again, the peer pressure really helps the students with less self control focus on the task at hand: learning to control themselves.

There are quite a few rules that I’ve picked up over the years, some more effective than others, but my favourites are as follows…

If someone wants to borrow a pencil/pen, they have to lend me something of theirs. Whether it be a phone, a pair of earphones, I even had someone hand me a pair of sunglasses. And I keep this throughout the whole lesson, and if they don’t give me back the item I loaned them, they don’t get back their item. I can think of only a handful of instances where I didn’t get a pencil back (if they do give me a phone, some money or something valuable, I give it back to them).

At the beginning of the lesson when I set a task, I have three zones of work. Red, orange and green. I set a bar at the beginning of the green zone. If a student surpasses that bar, they aren’t required to take the remainder of their work home. If any students go below that line (orange and red zone), they can either take the work they haven’t finished home or come to detention and do it then. I have allowances for people who work slowly, are dyslexic, etc. but I do expect this from those who were too busy talking and haven’t tried

If a student wants to eat in class, that’s fine. On the condition that they have enough of what they’re eating for every person in the class (including me). 99.9% of the time, they don’t, and so they can’t eat. Although this one backfired once when they actually did have enough for everyone, and so I could do nothing but let them eat. Fair game.

I will almost definitely end up adding more, but these are all I can think of at the moment, as the rest of my rules are pretty standard.

My rule was that only students who belong in my class my be in my room. There was too much drifting in from the halls with social interaction taking place in my room. This may not happen in other schools but where I taught last the time between classes was a circus. By keeping it clean, by having inflexible rules about who can come in, my room became a haven for those of my students who were tired of the circus.

It seems simple but by year’s end it had effected a sort of loyalty to myself and my classes. Kids want order no matter how bitterly they complain about rules, they really like consistency.

“Do and say only things that help, encourage, or support someone’s learning.”

I have lots of rules/routines to make my classroom run smoothly, but the above is my main rule and the only one posted as a “classroom rule.”

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