Saturday, April 9, 2016

Classroom Rules!

So as you get started with a new school year one thing to consider is your classroom rules. Classes are constantly changing and so are the students so take a moment to consider your rules and reflect...don't worry I will wait. When I started teaching I remember a few simple rules of the Rules that were spoken to me: keep it simple, model them constantly, and make sure the students have a hand in them.

In my first year of teaching I felt like the rules were such a huge deal that I didn't write them until a day or two before school. I wanted them to be perfect and I remember going back and forth with the idea of the students making up the rules...but I decided I would pen them myself instead. I guess I wanted some sense of control and as it was my first year I wasn't quite sure how to start the year sooooo I faked it till I made it, lol. Honestly I didn't do too bad at all, looking back my first year was full of fears and nerves but also big ideas and connections. You don't really know unless you try and that year I did a lot. My Rules started off as four simple, yet overarching commands: Be Respectful, Be Ready, Be Responsible, and Do Your Best. The last of which is my favorite because it's not about getting an A, but giving it your all.

As the years passed these rules have honestly been the same up until last year, in which I added one more....Be Positive. Why? Well, I wanted to find a way to say that it's important for the students to support one another, to have a positive attitude about themselves, and rise to any challenge. The rule Be Positive seems to say  that. I used it this past year and  loved it. I was able to reference it way more as a rule and I got to support it with positive points on Class Dojo. In an age where growing up too soon and negativity is an epidemic students need to be taught not only the subjects of math and reading, but how to be respectful citizens as well.

Now how do I teach my rules? The first month seems like it lasts forever because we go over them constantly. The first week alone I teach them and model them daily. Even for 5th graders they need the repetition for it to make sense and sink in. One activity that I love to do is a skit. I break the students into groups and make sure every rule is covered. To start they have to show how not to follow the rule and how to follow the rule. They get 20 minutes to work to prepare and then they show the class. I have also done it where the students have to act out a rule from a hat like charades. At the end of the week I have created a "I Solemnly Swear to know, understand, and uphold the rules to the best of my ability." There is a bit more to it, but you get the idea. The students sign it and it is posted under the rules poster in my classroom all year. It works almost like a contract as the students can never say,"I didn't know."

When we are having a rough day or after break we will go over the rules and maybe make posters.This year after break the students made posters to remind students how to act when doing certain activities such as read to self, working in groups, working independently, lining up etc. That seemed to help remind the students and over all allow them a chance to reflect. I feel like it's important to be dramatic and show case the rules in a way that is fun or over the top. It catches the students attention and gives them a chance to be crazy, silly, or just be bad for a moment then show all the good they can do. Even the toughest student can show what the rules truly mean and if they can do that they are capable of more then we know.

What are your classroom rules?

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