On the very first day of class it is important for any teacher to make known what is expected from their students and what the classroom norms are for your classroom. The traditional way of doing this is that the teacher will write on their syllabus the rules that they wish to set in their classroom. However, this sends a message to students that these are my rules, follow them or be punished. But also it makes those students who love to test a teachers limits on how well a teacher respond to rule breaking and their consequences for that rule breaking. Furthermore, because of these encouraged students that like to test the teachers limits will divert actual teaching time and will focus that time to classroom management and control. Which hurts the teacher and the students in the long run because that teacher will spend more time trying to keep control of the class than actually teaching. However, there is a way to include students in creating the classroom guidelines and norms that both the teacher and students understand and agree upon.
Creating the Classroom Guidelines
- Arrange your students into small group around 3 to 4 students and ask them to make a list of classroom rules or guidelines that everyone in the group agrees to.
- After about 15 minutes bring the classroom back together and have the groups share their idea and write them on the front board.
- Then once every group has shared have the class and yourself agree upon on how many guidelines that you and your students feel the need to have.
- Once the guidelines have been agreed upon go through ever guideline and make sure that it is written in positive language rather than a general or negative language. For example if you said, “Students who miss turning in assignments will have a failing grade for that assignment”. Rather you would state in a positive manner “Students are expected to turn in assignments on time, however, if assignments are turning in late they will result in a zero.”
- Then have a student or students write down the classroom guidelines on a big poster board or piece of paper. Once finished ask every student once again if they agree on these classroom rules to ensure that every student has had a say in the creation of these guidelines. Then if all the student agree have the students sign at the bottom of the guidelines as to show that they understand the guidelines and know the consequence if they do not follow those guidelines.
- Finally hang the classroom guideline in the front of the room so that every student can see the guideline. This will be a good way to begin a guided discipline approach in your classroom by helping to prevent negative behavior from accruing by setting the classroom norms with your students. Rather than you the teacher creating the rule for them to follow, you are creating rules and guidelines that you and the students can follow together. Which will result in trust building relationship with your students.