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Class Rules?

February 14, 2013

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Last October, @beckyfisher73 stopped by my room and asked about the class rules posted in my room.  This is my 8th year of teaching but my first year teaching kindergarten.  Traditionally, teachers hammer home the rules the first week of school.  I even did a bit of this when I taught upper elementary.  With kindergarten students, I didn’t want to go over rules too much.  The first day, we spend about 10 minutes going over very basic rules.

There was already an established set of class rules for all kindergarten students.  During the third week of school, I went over the established class rules with the kids.  We discussed the rules and they gave me reasons why they thought they were important.  The students seemed to agree that they were important.

After @Beckyfisher73’s visit, I began to evaluate why I did have those rules posted.  When I taught 3rd and 4th grade, I always had my students create the class rules themselves.  It was one of the first collaborative projects of the year.  They would develop 5 rules that the class agreed upon.  The point of having the students create the class rules was to give them ownership and accountability.

Why did I not do this with my kinder kids?  In retrospect, I think I should have.  I think next year I will.  This is an example of why I love teaching.  I fail.  Being an educator is challenging but it’s the challenges that enable me to grow.

These internal debates about class rules lead me to consider not having any class rules next year.  Does a kindergarten class with no class rules sound crazy?  I don’t think so.  After evaluating the rules I had posted in October, I took them down.  I have not had any rules posted for 3 months.  The class basically follows one rule, the Golden rule.  If I do have rules posted next year, I am going to create a way for the students to vote to have rules added and deleted via a democratic process.

Why does a classroom need rules?  Doesn’t the school have established rules already?  Most places of business don’t have rules listed.  Customers just know what is right and wrong.  Shouldn’t a classroom be the same? Shouldn’t the students, along with the teacher, monitor the classroom?  These are all the thoughts running through my mind.

What do you think?  Do you have class rules posted in your classroom?  Did you make the rules?  Did the kids make the rules?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. bvillemama permalink
    February 14, 2013 4:16 am

    I don’t post rules. I do post any notices required by the school, but I feel the enormous Code of Conduct delivered by the county at the beginning of the year pretty much covers everything. I tell my students that I expect everything they do to start with respect. In middle school, this doesn’t always work. But sometimes it does. I feel that if you start naming super-specific rules, the kids will work to find loopholes. “Well, the rules didn’t say…” – so I don’t post them. I do think it’s worthwhile to discuss class behavior expectations, and I think this needs reviewing as behaviors stray from those expected norms.

    • February 14, 2013 2:15 pm

      I agree. I think discussions are more valuable than words on a wall. Thanks for responding.

  2. February 14, 2013 11:38 am

    In our summer projects w kindergarten children , the class wrote rules using interactive writing, and illustrated. Made for good discussion and good practice.

    • February 14, 2013 2:14 pm

      I am thinking of something similar for next year. Thanks for responding.

  3. andrew permalink
    February 17, 2013 2:22 am

    Hey Michael,
    I am sure we have had this discussion before but I will post it here so that others may read. When I first started, I just said, however you are supposed to act in the classroom is how you should act in the gym (minus the no running bit). Looking back now I see this was a disaster. 1. because I had no clear expectations (although I thought they were), since I had double classes, one teacher might allow something that another teacher wouldn’t and since they are mixed together, total confusion sets in to where I had to make the rules up as I went which made it impossible to enforce.

    I had a few moments over the past few years that have helped me in deciding how to manage behavior ( I cringe as I write “manage behavior”). In my first year of coaching tennis, my AD had the wisdom to tell us coaches not to “rule yourself into a corner”. Meaning, don’t have so many rules that you become a compliance officer and not a coach. Also, lots of rules puts all the players in jeopardy of breaking one. You can have a situation that becomes an equity issue. Are you gonna discipline the star player for being late to practice the same as the bench player for the same infraction?

    Another moment was at a conference where I was sitting in on a session where the presenter was presenting wonderful cooperation, non-competitive, non-traditional games. It was geared toward most of our k-2 students and I would say a large percentage of elementary age students across the country. They gave their philosophy on how PE should be approached, etc. One aspect they shared was their “Be Gentle, Be Kind, Be Safe” mantra. They said this eliminated the need for rules. The more I thought about this, everything can fall under one of these tenants. So I started it up last year and now its easier to cover with the kids. I tell them to remember the 3 B’s of PE. We review it throughout the year just for a refresher. Its easy to remember, its catchy and better yet, it tells them what I want them to do rather than what not to do.

    Your Golden Rule idea, as we have talked with another teacher, fits the bill for the only rule needed. Based on our talks I have taken our 3 B’s a step farther in the past two weeks and pointed out that the 3 B’s deal with manners and that if we use our manners, we won’t need rules. I did say though that if someone decides not to use their manners and needs constant reminders to do so, then I will have to make a rule for that person. I have seen in just two weeks students having a better understanding of appropriate behavior and even a better understanding of why. I am very happy to think I might be onto something with the k-2 students to developing an intrinsic motivation to display appropriate behavior.

  4. February 17, 2013 2:33 am

    When I taught kindergarten, the students helped me generate our list of shared expectations. They then acted out each rule with partners as I photographed them. We posted the “visual rules” in a location students chose. They really enjoyed seeing themselves modeling for each other!

    • March 19, 2013 2:17 am

      This is awesome. I might “steal” this for next year. Thanks

    • June 16, 2013 3:52 pm

      Love that idea! I have them posted and the students create them but never thought to take pictures of them acting them out! Can’t wait to try this out!!

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