Developing Classroom Rules
The purpose of establishing rules and consequences is to guide students in their activities and interactions together. To ask for their input and involve them in the decision-making increases their commitment to obey the rules and can empower greater involvement in the classroom and possible democratic decision making.
Guidelines for developing effective social contracts
- Identify rules needed to run an effective classroom
- Ensure rules are clear and specific
- Connect rules to core values or principles by discussing rationale for their inclusion
- Involve students in developing procedures to be successful
- Discuss consequences and the relationship of each to the related rule. How each consequence is appropriate, instructive, and fair
- Develop a predictable range of consequences for rule violations that allow teachers to match one of many alternatives consequences to a particular circumstance
- As appropriate consult with parents for ideas that might be helpful and increase success.
- Periodically evaluate the rules to insure effectiveness
Steps in developing rules
Step 1 Discuss the non-negotiable rules
Identify the non-negotiable rules. Most non-negotiable rules are already in place as school or system wide rules that everyone must obey. In addition to them are federal and state.
Review these rules and verify that everyone knows what they are expected to do or expected not to do in different situations for each rule. Students must know you are committed to consistently enforcing these rules and that you intend to do so. Doing so will reduce misunderstandings, assumptions, and miscommunication for future problems.
Step 2 Discuss a multi-tier rule system
When students understand the school rules and the reasons for them. Inform them that there is going to be a second set of rules that will apply specifically to their classroom.
Then describe the difference between the two sets of rules. A most likely difference will be the second set, or classroom rules, will be more flexible. Another might be the empowerment provided students in deciding on the rules, enforcement, and consequences in a democratic manner.
Step 3 Create teacher rules
Explain you want them to create classroom rules to describe acceptable behaviors so everyone will know and can depend on appropriate and fair interactions necessary for a productive learning community.
Ask them to brainstorm and identify rules they feel are fair and and necessary for a learning community and for everyone to succeed.
Might want to start with rules for the teacher. You can have them brainstorm and list from scratch or provide them with a sample list.
- Will require everyone to treat each other with respect. Absolutely no put downs.
- Respect students’ ideas, property, and after school time.
- Ask permission to use students' ideas and stuff.
- Dismiss class on time for recess, lunch, other classes, and end of day.
- Return work promptly
- Do not share private information with others without permission
Review the list and ask student if there are additional expectations or rules they want for the teacher. If there are, then the teacher can respond and discussion them. Consensus can be reached or a vote can be taken for each item or collectively. If the vote is for each, then a final vote should be taken for final adoption. Post the results in the classroom.
This process can help build group cohesion, help to identify what students believe is important and what they expect from their teacher.
Might want to add consequences for teacher violations. Such as: apologize, free time for the class, canceling homework, or giving students a choice of activities
Step 4 Create student rules
Have students propose rules for each other.
- Do your own work.
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
- Listen when the teacher is talking.
Review each to see if everyone agrees each
- Is necessary for everyone to do (appropriate)
- Describes what each is expected to do (instructive)
- Is respectful. May need to define respectful (see notes else where.)
Discuss each and reach consensus or vote.
When students conclude the list is sufficient for now, reach consensus or vote for the entire package. Adopt and post rules in the classroom.
Step 5 Create consequences
Have students propose consequences for the rules in general or each specifically.
Students discuss items – then reach consensus or vote for one at a time and then the entire package. Adopt and post rules and consequences in the classroom.
Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©