Sunday, July 6, 2008

Choosing Class Rules Part I

One of my tasks over the summer is to choose my class rules. I've been reading both Tools for Teaching, and The First Days of School by Harry Wong, and the latter suggests distinguishing class rules from class procedures, the former being general codes of conduct and the latter being precise sets of directions. This makes a lot of sense to me, so I'm trying to come up with mine so I can get my poster made as soon as I have access to my school campus.

Last semester during student teaching these were the class rules my mentor teacher used:

1. Come to class prepared with all materials.
2. When the bell rings, be in your assigned seat quietly starting bellwork.
3. No personal grooming, electronics, food or drinks (except water) during class time.
4. When I call for attention, give me your raised hand, eyes, & silence immediately.
5. Be silent & pay attention when teacher is talking.

I later modified them and put up my own poster, as she encouraged me to take ownership of our classroom as much as possible, but I can't remember all our changes.

Still, here are the things I'm considering for my class rules this year:

* Come to class prepared with all materials & positive attitude.
* When the bell rings be in your seat and start the bellwork.
* No personal grooming, electronics, food or drinks (except water) in class.
* Do not talk when the teacher is talking.
* Discuss grades or class expectations after class.
* Follow all school and district rules.
* Be attentive, productive, and creative!
* Be respectful towards the teacher and your classmates.
* Do not interfere with the learning process of another.

I'm probably going to drop the one about the bell ringing as I think it fits more under "procedure" than "rule." Before I finish this post, I'm going to reread First Days of School (FDOS) and look at their suggestions...

I don't look on FDOS as the wonderful book that many other people have told me it is; I think its far too vague and full of edu-speak, but there are still many useful things in it especially for a first-year teacher.

What I got out of my latest reading was: 1) What are the basic things that, if my kids did them, I would be delighted? and 2) Rules are about behavior, not academic achievement.

Yes, yes, nothing brilliant or new, but it helped anyway. When I look at my list I'm now asking "What were the 5 most fruatrating behaviors in student teaching that wore me out mentally and emotionally?" FDOS also suggests more specific rules for new or struggling teachers, so I've cut my list down to this:

* Discuss grades or class expectations after class.
Huge, huge, huge problem for me. If I have this up, any time a kid tries to complain about my activities, assignments, rules or procedures, I can silently point to my class rules poster.
* Follow all school and district rules.
I constantly got "but its not on the list, why can't I?" when it came to enforcing school and district policies. Part of it is that I was at a campus with HORRIBLE inconsistencies in enforcing rules, but I'd like to cut that on off at the knees.
* Pay attention and don't talk while the teacher is talking.
Single biggest problem, of course.

At this point I'm running out of room, but I really wanted to end it with the positive note "Be attentive, productive, and creative!" Still, after trying it out, the poster was just too crowded. I've decided to make a separate poster saying "Be attentive, productive, and creative" and my final set of classroom rules (as of today, at least) is this:

If you want to download my poster to use, share, and/or change, you can download it here: Class_Rules_Poster.pdf or Class_Rules_Poster.ppt, on the Sines of Learning Document Page.


jesallyus said...

what grade are these rules for? I like them, and I love your thought process. i am writing my own classroom rules now and i found this quite helpfu! thankyou

John said...

The son of our neighbor once brought to school by mistake some viagra online , he thought it was aspirins, gladly he didn't took any of the pills.