How Do I Create Classroom Rules?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Encouraging students to raise their hands to ask or answer questions is a good classroom rule.
Encouraging students to raise their hands to ask or answer questions is a good classroom rule.

Creating classroom rules at the outset of a school year or semester will help you keep order in the classroom and give you a way to reward good behavior. Remember that rewarding good behavior is far more important than punishing bad behavior, so be sure whatever classroom rules you create give you the freedom to reward students for meeting expectations. Consistency is also very important; if you create a rule, be ready to evenly enforce that rule throughout the semester or school year. Inconsistent enforcement of rules will encourage students to break those rules or to become too lax in other ways.

Classroom rules should be simple, brief and easy to follow.
Classroom rules should be simple, brief and easy to follow.

Try to be minimalist with your classroom rules. Too many rules will confuse the students and will make them feel as though they have no leeway in the classroom whatsoever. Your rules should be simple and brief, and they should be easy to follow. Present the rules at the beginning of the school year and make sure they are posted clearly within the classroom so students can reference the classroom rules at any time. It may help to outline a rewards and punishment scale as well so students know what to expect should they break the rules.

Teachers need to clearly explain discipline consequences to students when going over rules.
Teachers need to clearly explain discipline consequences to students when going over rules.

It will be important to phrase the rules carefully. Instead of using a lot of "No" statements, try phrasing the classroom rules to encourage earning of privileges. A rule that states, "No mp3 players in the classroom," for example, will seem harsh to a student, thereby encouraging them to find ways to break that rule. You can instead say, "Mp3 players will be allowed only with teacher permission." This will encourage students to ask the teacher when they can use mp3 players, and the teacher can then make a determination on a case by case basis. This opens up options for both the teachers and the students.

Praise and rewards can be given to students in front of a class.
Praise and rewards can be given to students in front of a class.

Some rules will, of course, need to be punitive to some degree, which is acceptable. If you need to discipline a student for violating classroom rules, never do so in front of the entire class. Whenever possible, pull the student aside so other students are not watching and commenting. Isolating the student prevents backlash from other students, and it helps the teacher quell any conflict that may have arisen in the classroom. Praise can be given in front of the class, as can rewards, though it will be important for the teacher to gauge whether this is appropriate on a case by case basis as some students may be embarrassed by this.

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Discussion Comments

KoiwiGal

@clintflint - Discipline tends to be the tough thing in my opinion, because often a school will have particular regulations regarding punishment that I don't think should be followed in every case. Sometimes a kid is just having a bad day and they shouldn't be given detention or whatever. But unfortunately not all schools allow you to use personal judgment.

clintflint

@bythewell - That's a good idea in theory, but remember that often classroom rules and procedures have to fit in with general school policy. Now, usually you can talk about this with the students and they will agree that the rules are fair, but in some cases you've just got to lay down the law.

You're never going to get your whole class to agree that, for example, not being able to dye your hair is a reasonable rule, but many schools have that rule in place. You can't tell them that because they don't like it, they don't have to follow it. The school administration wouldn't exactly be happy with you if you did that.

Definitely try for a democracy as much as you can in your class, but remember that you've got to fit into the school as well.

bythewell

The best way to create school rules for your classroom is to get the students to do it for you. Make it into a pact between you and them. Kids are smart enough to come up with most of the rules by themselves, simply through discussion. They know that speaking over someone or hurting another person's feelings isn't a good thing.

The upside is that if you get them to create the rules themselves, then they will understand them and want to follow them. The only downside is that you have to be consistent and follow the rules yourself but that shouldn't be difficult.

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    • Encouraging students to raise their hands to ask or answer questions is a good classroom rule.
      By: michaeljung
      Encouraging students to raise their hands to ask or answer questions is a good classroom rule.
    • Classroom rules should be simple, brief and easy to follow.
      By: Ermolaev Alexandr
      Classroom rules should be simple, brief and easy to follow.
    • Teachers need to clearly explain discipline consequences to students when going over rules.
      By: Monart Design
      Teachers need to clearly explain discipline consequences to students when going over rules.
    • Praise and rewards can be given to students in front of a class.
      By: Ermolaev Alexandr
      Praise and rewards can be given to students in front of a class.
    • Teachers may ask for assistance from parents when reinforcing classroom rules.
      By: sneksy13
      Teachers may ask for assistance from parents when reinforcing classroom rules.
    • Teachers may need to create classroom rules focused on computer use.
      By: yanlev
      Teachers may need to create classroom rules focused on computer use.
    • It is appropriate to give both praise and rewards in front of the class.
      By: paylessimages
      It is appropriate to give both praise and rewards in front of the class.