What can Ms. Rollison do to increase the chances that her students will behave appropriately in class?
Page 7: Rules
Now that Ms. Rollison has created a statement of purpose, she needs to think about her expectations for her students, the behaviors she wants them to display. Using these expectations, she will develop a set of classroom rules, explicit statements describing how she expects students to behave in her classroom. Rules provide a way for students to monitor their own behavior, and they remind and motivate students to display expected behavior. In cases where there is a school-wide behavior management system (e.g., PBIS) in place, teachers should create classroom rules that align with the school’s existing rules. In addition, teachers should limit the number of their classroom rules to five or fewer and make certain that those rules adhere to the following four guidelines:
Example: Walk in the hallway.
||Example: Talk in a whisper when working with a partner.
Nonexample: Maintain a reasonable vocal level when working with a peer.
||Example: Be in your seat with supplies on your desk when the bell rings.
Nonexample: Be ready when the bell rings.
||Example: Keep your hands to yourself.
Nonexample: Be a good citizen.
Click here to view behaviors for which teachers often develop rules. To help students develop ownership of the rules, teachers might consider including students, depending on their age, in the process of developing them.
- When teachers create classroom rules that are stated positively and describe expected behavior, students engage in less disruptive behavior.
(Colvin, Kame’enui, & Sugai, 1993; Kerr & Nelson, 2002)
- When teachers are supportive and develop clear rules and procedures, students feel confident about their ability to do well academically.
In addition to the four guidelines listed above, rules should be based on realistic, age-appropriate behavioral expectations. Note how the sample rules below differ for elementary, middle, and high school students. (Click any picture to open an expanded view.)
Once a teacher has created the classroom rules, he or she must explicitly and systematically teach them to her students. It is recommended that teachers teach the rules at the beginning of the school year and also remind students of the rules throughout the year. Reminders might be especially important at certain points throughout the year when behavioral issues tend to increase, such as before and after extended school breaks. Additionally, teachers should post the rules in the classroom. Teachers might also choose to provide handouts of the rules.
Lauren Acevedo discusses how she teaches her first-grade students the meanings of the school rules (time: 0:37).
Ms. Rollison wants her classroom rules to emphasize the importance of being on time, being prepared, doing good work, acting in a respectful way, and following directions. Here are the rules she has generated:
- No running in class.
- Follow all directions.
- Fighting is forbidden.
- Speak respectfully and use an “inside voice.”
- Do your best work.
Write down your thoughts about Ms. Rollison’s rules. Do they follow the four guidelines listed above? Do they cover all the behaviors that Ms. Rollison wants to address?
Do these rules follow the four guidelines listed above?
- State positively
Rules 1 and 3 are stated negatively. For example, rule 1 could be changed to read “Remember to walk in class.”
- Use simple, specific terms
Ms. Rollison did a nice job of keeping the rules simple and specific.
- Make measurable and observable
It would be difficult to measure whether a student was doing his or her best work (rule 5).
- Ensure that they convey expected behavior
Do the rules cover all the behaviors that Ms. Rollison wants to address?
Because Ms. Rollison states that she wants her classroom rules to address being on time and arriving to class prepared, she should develop rules for these behaviors. If she does so, she might need to prioritize her rules and eliminate some so as to limit the number to five or fewer.