How to Make Classroom Rules

Misty Hance
Misty Hance
Assistant School Principal; Ed.D. in School Leadership, Carson-Newman University, TN

Nothing sets the tone of your classroom better than having achievable expectations and rules that are made to be followed. But when it comes to establishing these classroom rules, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Talk to your Fellow Teachers

First, gather ideas from your peers within your school. It is really hard for students to go into each room if each room has a different set of rules to follow. Of course, you can have your own twist to them, but if the school has a “no food in the classroom” rule, then you can’t go against that. Be consistent with school rules, and in close proximity to other teachers’ classroom rules — at least in your same grade or subject.

Respect in Classroom

Next, keep in mind a few rules are better than a long list. Many teachers have found that five is a good number for most classrooms. They should center around being respectful to people and property.

There are some negotiable policies that you will need to consider before you make your rules. It is totally up to you as to what kind of classroom you will have when it comes to rules on staying seated or being able to move around the room with flexibility. Another consideration is whether you want students to remain quiet and raise their hand, or if you will allow for more discussion.

Classroom Management Ideas

There are also some classroom management expectations that need to be addressed, but not made into rules. For example, you may want all homework completed in pencil, or you may allow pen, or you may allow students to complete their homework on a computer.

You may determine that each child can check out one book at a time from the classroom library, or that students can read or draw after an assignment is completed, or perhaps they will have computer time. Again, these are procedures to address, but you may not think of them until they arise.

Finally, many teachers like to allow for student input in making the classroom rules. This is a great idea, as students have buy-in and are more likely to follow them if they see the rules as important to them. If you choose to take this approach, have some rules in mind ahead of time. You can always help mold student suggestions into the rules you desire. If you choose this method, you will want to have a brainstorming time, maybe read a book to the class about why rules are necessary, or have a discussion on what would happen if there were no rules.

As students brainstorm, they can work as partners or as a whole class. You might write a whole page full of ideas and help them learn to sort and combine until they have narrowed the list down to a workable number. Perhaps you will allow the students to write the completed list on a poster, or sign the completed document once you make it.

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