Here's how to do it. Start with a list of what you consider the most important and necessary for a classroom, and then, through thoughtful discussion, work with your students to create a set of rules expressed in their language.
Here is an example of a starting list that you could use, adapt and expand it to meet the needs of your class and grade level:
- Respect Everyone
- Listen and Learn
- Follow Instructions
- Raise your hand before speaking and leaving your seat
- Start work quickly and stay on task
As you go through creating and establishing the rules conduct a discussion about why each rule is important and how it impacts the rest of the class if a rule is broken. Once finalized, create a contract together and have each student write up the rules on the contract; each student is to sign their contract at the end. Keep the contracts filed together, so that if a rule is broken, there is the option to refer the student to their signed personal contract to point out that they breached it.
Some important tips to remember when creating the rules:
- Keep the rules list short so that it is easier to remember by all.
- Write rules in a positive tone about what students must do (I like to try and stay away from using too many ‘do not….!’
- Make your rules as clear and specific as possible.
- Make the rules list into a large poster and hang it on the classroom wall for easy reference.
- For the first few days back at school, keep refreshing and conducting a quick discussion about the rules.
- Decide on consequence for breaking the rules.
Point out and explain that rules help make everyone’s time in school more enjoyable; use examples to illustrate this point. An activity to reinforce this would be to split the students into groups and assign a particular rule to each. Each group must create a role play about a student breaking the rule and showing how it impacts others. Groups perform their rule role play in front of the class; whole class discussion post each performance about why the rule presented is important.
All the best for the new school year!