Basic classroom rules and tips on how to implement them.
Rules, like promises, are made to be broken. Now you can make that statement a fiction for all your teaching life. Rules and regulations will function at its best if formed, implemented and monitored properly. And doing this starts with some ample patience and firm execution.
School and classroom rules are basically, basic. And yet, there are still some (if not all) who find it difficult to stick to them—may it be students, parents or even teachers and school administrators themselves. Perhaps it is caused by the seemingly innate nature of humans to break laws or simply, the rules itself are just not that effective, including its structure.
Below are some of the basic (most probably, already existing) classroom rules you can use and tips on how to re-shape them for improved effectiveness.
RULE NO. 1: DON’T BE LATE.
This rule is undoubtedly, a cliché. And you must agree that you have committed the sin as well (at least once, even if you’re considered as one of the good students—or teachers). Certain rules apply not only to students but also with the teachers and this is one of those. It is important for each in the class to come on time as to avoid distraction and for everyone to grasp lessons fully. This will also save you the trouble of repeating necessary details which you might have mentioned earlier before the latecomers swooped in. As for you, you should consider your students’ interests and remember, “Time is gold” so every second counts and every bit of knowledge is vital.
Saying “Don’t be late” will never be enough. And being hard-core-strict alone does not guarantee a latecomer-free class. Of course there will be emergencies that might hinder your students from coming to class on time (or at all). For such emergencies, tardy cards will be most effective.
The concept of tardy cards is giving your students grace days which are number of days that they can come late without being marked so. To do this, you must first decide on how many grace days you will give each student and if you want it to be checked yearly or periodically. Next, at the start of the year, have them prepare (index) cards with their names on it and sign each for validation. Signing the cards will prevent them from cheating by getting a new card. Then tell them that every time they’ll arrive late, they are to present the cards and you’ll sign it. If signatures reach the maximum grace days, the next days will be marked as tardy or absent.
On the other hand, give rewards to those who would never use the tardy cards, which means they were always on time and never absent. Add grade pints or exempt them in quizzes, exams or activities. This will surely inspire your students to always try to come on time.
RULE NO. 2: KEEP QUITE AND STAY IN YOUR SEATS
Like rule no. 1, this rule aims to lessen distraction in class. Indeed, it is quite a handful to keep you’re playful and extremely friendly elementary kids still and quiet. You might have many encounters with students transferring from one place to another every time you’ll face the blackboard to write or post something. And you might have always been hearing buzzing inside the classroom, cracking a joke if bees from the garden sneaked their way to the room. You might have thought of outrageous measures like pasting plastic tapes or sticking red chilli peppers in your students’ mouths (which are strictly prohibited by law) just to refrain them from talking with each other. Well, you need not be so much of a Hitler—a little creativity with classroom guidelines could do the trick.
Name plates, they are so passé. Use numbers instead. Once you have assigned seats for each of your students (whether it be by height, gender or surnames), allot numbers for each student’s chair. This way, it would be much easier for you to check who isn’t seated in their proper places. Instead of giving punishments to the culprits, inspire them to stay in their seats by guaranteeing rewards to those who wouldn’t get caught transferring places.
When it comes to talkative students, the easiest thing to do to keep their mouths shut until it is necessary for them to talk, is to secure that they are attentions are on you. As much as possible, make lectures interesting so they would set aside telling stories to each other while you’re teaching. If it is time for seat works, design activities that would keep them busy and focused so the tendencies of chaos in the classroom would be lessened. Otherwise, if you just cannot reprimand a problem kid even with all your might, seek another professional’s advice—the guidance counsellor.
RULE NO. 3: PASS REQUIREMENTS ON TIME
It might be already a given, but this matter still should have a room for your extra attention. It would be a hassle for you to check late papers and projects when you should be doing something else that was on the original timeline. Deadlines are there to exercise discipline on everyone specially your young students.
To keep your students from creating excuses for not being able to do assignments and pass them on or before due is to ensure that you give them ample time to prepare and do it. Also, double check if they were assigned with tasks in other subjects that may coincide with your given deadline, if that happens, try to adjust. This way, they could not get away with the reason that they were out of time or they had so many things to do simultaneously.
If emergencies happened, such as a student got sick, you can also act considerate and still accept late assignments. But, to be fair with those who passed their works on time, deduct some reasonable points. Other than that, if the excuse is outright unacceptable, do not check the project. This will stand as a vital lesson to the student.
RULE NO. 4: DO NOT DISTURB WHILE CLASS IS ON-GOING
This one doesn’t only cover your students, but everyone that has basically, the capacity to perturb your class’ precious momentum—parents, co-teachers and even your school principal could be suspects to this classroom crime. In most days, we know how difficult it is to for you to gather and hold your students’ attention and we also know how difficult it is to win it back once it drifts off so you better master the craft of boxing it ‘til the end of the class period. So regardless of who would dare disturb your class, you have to be more assertive when it comes to executing this rule.
Start by making sure that everyone concerned knows about the rule. Tell your students to tell their parents not to go and unnecessarily “visit” them in class hours. And if they have to talk to you, they should give earlier notice so you can schedule a time for a meeting out of class hours. With your colleagues and school officials, you can discuss this matter with them in your teachers’ meeting, or talk about it over lunch with your friend co-teachers. You can also tell your school administrators personally, if you prefer to. Who knows, if your boss digs the idea, this might even be a school-wide ordinance and you’ll have the pride for authoring such an effective rule.