Classroom rules are an essential part of any discipline plan and all classroom rules must be stated positively. Students must also understand these rules in order for any plan to be effective. It is recommended to use the rules to provide students with feedback throughout the day. If you have not yet formulated any classroom rules, it is suggested that the section titled Starting the School Year be viewed for some guidelines. Some common examples of classroom rules might be:
* Give every task your best effort
* Listen when the teacher or someone else is talking raise your hand if you have something to say
* Cooperate and get along with others
* Work quietly and independently at your desk until you have completed your work.
Think of the following five basic components when creating classroom rules:
The first component is providing each student in the class with positive feedback. Sprick states that this component is the most important one. Sprick proposes that by giving each student positive feedback can the teacher truly motivate each student to do his or her best.
The second component is systematically providing positive feedback to the class as a whole. This procedure demonstrates to each student the need to work cooperatively as a member of the class, in addition to working as an individual. Through this component, the teacher helps students learn to cooperate, work as a team, be supportive of one another, and engage in positive peer interactions.
The third component involves a group contingency plan whereby the entire class “owes time” for engaging in certain types of misbehavior. This part of the plan punishes the class as a whole so as to reaffirm to students the necessity of working together and cooperating with one another. It also helps students learn the borderline between acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the classroom.
The fourth component involves instituting the owing-time strategy for individual students who have misbehaved. This element of the plan is designed to teach students that there are consequences for violating classroom rules. Students will learn that they may misbehave if they choose; however, they must also face the consequences if they do.
The fifth and final component is a simplified version of the discipline plan, which can be left for a substitute teacher. This component includes an explanation of the plan’s approach and instructions on how to implement the plan in your absence. The information can be simply left in a place where the substitute teacher will readily find it.
For a more in-depth discussion about making classroom rules, the following reference may be helpful:
The solution book: A guide to classroom discipline, Science Research Associates, Chicago.