Starting the school year on the right foot includes establishing classroom rules that will last the whole year through. It is a good idea to involve pupils in establishing their classroom rules. Research shows that pupils want to attend school in a safe environment, and they want to know the boundaries when it comes to classroom behaviour. Most experienced educators say, “The key to creating classroom rules is to keep those rules few and simple, and to establish up front the consequences if the rules are broken.”
The consequences for breaking a classroom rule are at least as important as the rule itself. Every teacher must communicate consequences that follow the set school procedures (Refer to College Code of Discipline). The following is a list of consequences for breaking classroom rules:
- First time: Verbal warning
- Second time: Pupil identifies the rule he/she has broken and what he/she plans to do to correct the situation.
- Third and Fourth time: Note sent to parents. (Teacher keeps a record)
- Fifth time: A member of the SMT calls parents for a meeting
CLASSROOM BEHAVIOUR CONTRACT
During the first days of school, involve your pupils in creating their classroom rules. Adapt the following suggestions to suit the age group you teach. The rule-making process may begin by posing some questions to your pupils, examples:
- How do you want me to treat you?
- How do you want to treat one another?
- How do you think I want to be treated?
- How should we treat one another when there is a conflict?
Pupils share their thoughts about those questions in small groups, and then with the entire class. Responses are posted on a large sheet of chart paper. As an idea is repeated, a checkmark or star is placed beside it.
The rule-making activity takes place over parts of several days. Each day the rules are refined. The teacher then writes and reads the rules so pupils can discuss them. The pupils decide if there are items that need to be added or deleted.
When the rules are ready, have all the pupils sign the ‘poster’ as a commitment to follow the class rules. The pupils copy these rules on their diary (or are given a copy).
The original poster is displayed in the classroom. When the teacher feels they are slipping, she reminds them of the ‘contract’ they all signed – the rules they came up with and agreed to. The rules are reviewed before and after a long weekend or extended break and when someone new joins the class. During each review, the teacher asks if any items need to be removed or added.
Set not less than five rules (not more than ten) that must include the following five key areas:
- Respect (respect plays out in many ways, including paying attention, obeying school rules – eating a healthy lunch …)
- Dress Code (the importance of cleanliness, appropriate appearance, uniform …)
- Environment (taking care of personal and others’ belongings, school property –furniture, equipment …)
- Participation (taking an active part in lessons, asking questions, doing your work …)
- Punctuality (being on time for lessons, being present for the assembly …)
All rules must reinforce positive behaviour and must be illustrated and written in terms that the children can understand, for example:
We raise our hand before we speak during a classroom lesson.
We listen quietly while others are speaking.
We pay attention during the lessons.
We do our work neatly and on time.
We are quiet in lines, stairways and corridors.
We stay on task during group work.
We always do our best.