Now that classrooms are organized and ready, well just about, and the professional development meetings are over, for now; all that seems to be left is to fill the classroom with eager, energetic students ready to take on a new school year. Just remember, these new students are coming to you fresh off of summer camp fun, late night sleepovers, and erratic schedules. In other words, your new students are in dire need of structure and a regimented set of classroom rules.
Many educators develop their classroom norms or rules before students even step foot into the classroom. These are usually simple rules that students should follow to create an “ideal” learning environment. Though at times this may be successful, students do not have any say or ownership in the environment they will be learning and socializing in for the next 10 months. This can lead to frequent problems and behavioral issues.
Try instead asking your students for suggestions the first day or two of school. For instance, brainstorm a list of the students ideas on large chart paper or the front board. Once the list is compiled ask students, if old enough, to vote on the top 6-8 rules to respectfully follow for the school year.
For younger students, pick the top 5 and create a classroom poster with all the classroom norms and have each child sign the poster to display. For older students you can do the same or create a more complex personal contract for each student to sign. You can give the students a copy and keep one for yourself to refer back to if needed.
abcteach offers some helpful classroom rule posters that can go along with your individualized set of classroom norms. Using them as a visual example to start students on the right path to brainstorming appropriate classroom norms would be ideal. Check out these posters and other ideas for classroom rule displays by typing in “rules” in the search box of abcteach website. Classroom Rules
Don’t forget…Having the classroom norms visible for students of all ages creates a set of boundaries and rules that students feel connected to and are able to reference easily.
Happy rulemaking not rule breaking!
Emily Barnett Pomish -abcteach