This month’s guest post comes to us from Charity L. Preston from www.theorganizedclassroomblog.com. Ms. Preston is an author, teacher, and parent, but most importantly, she is an educator in all roles. ” The ability to teach someone something new is a gift that few truly appreciate.” In this post, Ms. Preston shares her tips to help teachers establish and enforce classroom rules.
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If you know how to deal with an unruly classroom, you will enjoy teaching infinitely more. Students prefer rules and knowing the limits of their actions. Some students do not have rules or limits in within their home environments, and having a space in which there are no surprises is comforting to many of these unruly children.
Having students assist in creating rules, consequences, and rewards for the classroom involves them and allows for more buy-in. Mandates can backfire, but engaging conversation from both parties, the teacher and the class, can benefit all involved. When students participate in creating rules for the classroom, they cannot argue when they choose to break that rule.
Create the ground rules for the classroom as a class.
- At the very beginning of the school year, devote one to two class periods to come up with the ground rules for the classroom for the entire school year.
- Brainstorm with the children and write everything down that they say. Do not discourage any type of reasonable suggestion.
- Decide on the top five rules that will be adhered to during class times. Of course, you are the teacher, so you are able to have the final word, but normally students will pick out the rules they would like to see for others to follow.
- Make sure these are typed up (or neatly handwritten) on a large poster board to be hung on the wall in a prominent place as they will be referred to throughout the day and year.
Determine what the consequences will be for breaking those rules.
- After deciding your top five rules, spend the next class period deciding what the consequences will be for breaking those rules.
- Typically, you will find that students are way harder on themselves than we would be. If some are being overly zealous, try to encourage them to lighten up a bit. You don’t want the student who forgets to sharpen his pencil before class to have to owe five days of after school detention. That is not a proper consequence for the infraction.
- Discuss all these things with your class. Having open, candid conversation is good for social and critical thinking skills.
- Come to a consensus on the consequences and maybe throw in a couple of reward incentives as well. For example, if there are no behavior infractions for three days, the class will earn an extra 10 minutes of free time in the computer lab.
- Try to find rewards that cost nothing, but that the children will truly enjoy.
Being fair and consistent in upholding your class rules
- Having the rules and the consequences is essentially the easy part. The teacher has had plenty of input from students about what they would like to see in both categories.
- Being fair and consistent in upholding those rules is the tough part that falls solely on the teacher.
- Students will only buy-in to your behavior expectations if they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will be enforced fairly for all classroom participants. No favorites or second chances. If this starts to happen, your class will become unruly in the blink of an eye.
As long as the teacher is creating fair and equitable parameters for the classroom setting, students will respect and honor those wishes, or know in advance what the consequences will be if they choose not to. Dealing with an unruly classroom can take the life out of even the best of teachers, so knowing how to control students is a key to classroom management. Make sure you have the tools necessary to mend the weak links in your school environment.