I have spoken about my opinions on classroom rules lots of times. We make classroom rules much more complicated than they need to be.
There are only two classrooms rules that make a difference.
Just what are they?
1. Allow everyone to learn.
2. Allow teachers to teach.
Anything that interferes with either, breaks my classroom rules and must be stopped.
There are a lot of procedural niceties that I usually make up on the run.
However, I ALWAYS want kids to let everyone learn. That is an absolute.
That's why that is a classroom rule and the others aren't.
There is not doubt that kids need limits.
I am not a big one for choices. But I would like to share my thoughts on setting limits.
Limits exist along a continuum.
On one end is the teacher who sets limits for everything to the extent that kids will never act without checking with the teacher first.
On the other end is the classroom where there are no limits kids make all the decisions about how they behave.
Which classroom is the best for a classroom is always the focus of considerable debate.
Limits help kids frame their decisions about their behaviour.
I don't like giving kids choices.
I believe teachers are better setting limits than giving choices.
Classrooms exist along the continuum. On one end the teacher here sets a classroom where kids are expected to do what ever they are told. At the other end is the classroom where decisions are permitted without limits. In this classroom, kids are allowed to do whatever they wish.
Classrooms at either end are doomed to fail.
The middle ground makes sense. For example students are permitted to show displeasure (behaviour) but they must not use abusive language (limits).
Children can show anger (behaviour) but you must not hit (limit).
"What are some ways that are appropriate to show your anger?" (behaviour with limits).
Consider the two rules that I hold dear and true. I can not think of any situation where they would not be appropriate. Can you?
They are absolute and apply to every classroom and every learning situation.
Limits are contextual. Limits help students develop a sense of responsibility.
The reason limits are not rules as such is because these procedural matters change to suit the occasion. For example, sometime I want hands up, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I want kids in lines, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I want kids to talk, sometimes I don't.
I never involve students in making classroom rules or limits. Never!
Can you think of any situation where you were involved in making the rules? We weren't consulted in the road rules, the tax laws, superannuation policies, insurance rules. Where in the realm of reality is it appropriate for kids to be consulted about the complex issue of making decisions about rules? There seems to be some confusion that classrooms were set up as democracies.
I forget receiving that Memo. I don't think classrooms should be democracies, but would be interested in your opinion.
Kids need to make decisions about selecting their behaviour options.
For that reason, your rules need to be so clear and so unambiguous that they know when the rule is broken.
Forget rules like "Be respectful."
It is mentioned so many times but for a kid who is a continual miscreant, it has no meaning because it covers everything from using a tissue to shaking your hand to tipping you hat for a lady!
Have you enrolled in the Behaviour Management for Relief Teachers Online Course.
Study online and in your own time.