Classroom Rules: How to Craft Them and Which Ones Matter

Jan 5, 2019 by

Without rules there is anarchy. That’s not to say that without classroom rules your students will revolt, but they’ll certainly have a difficult time focusing, establishing a routine, and thriving without direction and guidance. Safety is another factor to consider when discussing classroom rules. As the adult and voice of reason, you must lay the groundwork for how your classroom is run. Not only does this help establish your role as the authority figure and elicit respect, but it actually enhances the student experience. When you establish rules to follow, the students don’t have to think about their basic needs and safety concerns. They can focus their attention solely on the lessons and curriculum. It frees their minds to explore, dream, discover, and flourish. But what types of classroom rules work best? Find out here.

Raise Your Hand Before Speaking

This is a basic rule that’s taught early on in a student’s educational career and teaches more than you may think. Without this rule in place, students would call out randomly and talk over one another. This makes for a very noisy and chaotic classroom! Teaching students to raise their hand before speaking helps strengthen self-control and self-regulation. They quickly learn to take turns and be patient. Help students to recognize the importance of listening to one another. The student speaking before them might answer their question or have something beneficial to say. Raising their hand also shows respect for the teacher and classmates. As the teacher, it’s important to acknowledge each student that raises their hand. This helps show positive reinforcement and rewards the student for their patience. To avoid wasted time or drawn out personal stories unrelated to the subject at hand, encourage students to only raise their hand if they have something relevant to say. Make time later for personal stories and anecdotes. You can tactfully steer the conversation in the right direction without disregarding the student’s feelings or thoughts.

Be Respectful to Yourself and Others

Respect is crucial in every classroom setting. First and foremost, the students need to respect you as the teacher. Not only are you an adult, but you are the role model and the person in charge of the classroom. You’re responsible for student safety and success. Respect is something earned, not demanded. It’s sometimes difficult for teachers to gain respect from older students who are entering puberty, feeling defiant, and exercising their rebellious muscles. Young learners automatically feel affection and appreciation toward their teachers. Often times, they respect you the minute you greet them with a warm smile. But students must also respect each other and themselves. You can teach students to respect themselves by being kind and positive. That means not getting frustrated when they don’t master a new skill or concept on their first try. Help students appreciate and respect their effort more than the outcome. You can also help students respect themselves through self-care. Things like maintaining a clean and organized workspace, coming to school clean and presentable, and acting kindly toward themselves and others are all signs of self-respect. Respecting fellow classmates also means speaking positively, not excluding or bullying one another, respecting personal space, and treating others the way the student wants to be treated. A classroom where mutual respect is present is one designed for success.

Listen Carefully to Directions

Following directions is an important classroom rule for several reasons. Without clear directions of what the student should be doing, not only will they complete the task incorrectly, but they won’t get the most out of the experience. If you’re trying to teach a specific skill, directions are an important part of this process. Explain to students that they must listen carefully to what you say before attempting anything on their own. Speak slowly and clearly so that students can fully comprehend and interpret the lesson. Show an example of the proper way to complete the task and write step-by-step directions somewhere visible to the entire class. Offer clarification to students who need it. But directions aren’t reserved just for classroom lessons related to learning a skill or subject. Directions are important for student safety. If you’re performing a fire drill or lockdown, students must know their roles and how to properly perform them. This is extremely important in emergency situations. First aid is another important factor in classroom safety. Basic rules like no running and properly holding scissors and using other classroom equipment, can help keep students safe and healthy.

Be Prepared for the Day

Being prepared is half the battle when it comes to success, both in school and in life in general. When students arrive at school prepared for the day, they can focus on the task at hand and are equipped with all the necessary tools they need to achieve their full potential. Encourage students to come to class with whatever tools you require for the day. These can be things like a sharpened pencil, crayons, a notebook, backpack, and a healthy snack and lunch. Require that homework is returned on time and complete. If the student is struggling, contact the parents and discuss homework alternatives. Students should wear clothes that are comfortable and adhere to the school’s dress code. Clothes that are distracting to the student or others should be prohibited. But being prepared for the day doesn’t just mean the physical things. Do your students have their “listening ears” on? Did they have a healthy breakfast and sleep well the night before? Students should arrive each day alert, well-rested, and prepared to tackle the day.

Classroom rules are much more about creating a safe environment for learning and discovery than about exerting power or authority. While students must respect you as the teacher, they also need to know that you have their best interests in mind. When you lay the foundation for positivity in the classroom, students can focus their full attention on learning. Basic rules like raising your hand, coming to school prepared for the day, and listening carefully to directions help eliminate obstacles standing in the way of student success.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.