Hi all, I'm going to be a new teacher in about 2.5 weeks, and I'm getting ready to hit the ground running once school starts. I do believe in teachers and students determining classroom rules and procedures together in order to increase student buy-in and to develop positive relationships. However, I've never had the opportunity to collaborate with students in making classroom rules and procedures. I have a few questions for those who have experience doing so and for those who are infinitely smarter than I:
- What categories should be determined together? (i.e. # of bathroom passes? missed homework policies? leveled consequences? any others?)
- Is it acceptable to not follow school policy when students are in agreement that a rule should be changed? (i.e. If the school rules dictate that students will not receive credit for late work, but the students all agree that it should be counted for 1/2 credit, how would you proceed?)
- How would you proceed if students take advantage of the power I would giving them, and all agree on items that will not help the class run smoothly?
Any wisdom you can impart on the subject would be most helpful! Thank you in advance.
The way that I am going to start this year is just with a discussion of why we have rules/laws, what are the consequences of a lawless society? We will have a discussion of what rules they have had in previous classes. They will give ideas for rules and through questioning and discussion I can always narrow all of their rules down into one, Be respectful to the community, the class, and yourself. I always ask them to give me examples of what the rule looks like when it is being followed and what it looks like when it is being broken.
Procedures to me are not as open like the homework policy and bathroom passes first of all because they are put in place by our building, but also because I would not want them to have 15 passes obviously, but could lead to a good discussion of why you need to be in class and not in the bathroom as well as if you need to go 15 times you need to be seeing the doctor...just my 2 cents.
There is a difference between rules and expectations. Check out http://teachers.net/gazette/MAR02/marshall.html for more on this.
I only have three rules in my classroom at the start of the year. I have many expectations. 1) no touchy-touchy, 2)Respect each other, 3) don't say "the words" (shut up) that I review. My expectations never change They are iron clad don't ask me for a "second chance", my rules are rules... they are flexible, even breakable at times.
I discuss the nature of laws, then throw my rules away and let the kids create a class constitution (for Constitution Day, which is September 17) We vote the next day and then sign the rules. The kids do a good job of developing rules, especially if you separate rules vs. expectations.
Kids feel part of the process, I have reviewed the basic democratic process, and still maintain control.
Hi Michael and welcome to teaching! I use something from a training called "Capturing Kids Hearts" to establish some of the guidelines for my class - in terms of behavior only. I set the procedures - like where to turn in the work, bathroom passes, etc. We have teams so I have to go along with the rules we set.
Basically, I ask the kids four questions - or put them in groups to answer: How do we want to be treated by the teacher; How do we want to be treated by each other; how does the teacher want to be treated by us; and what do we do when mistakes are made? I get a consensus from each class period about their ideas, and we enter into a social contract. I've attached the PowerPoint I use and an example from one of my class periods. I print the final contract on a poster size paper, and we have a signing ceremony. Then the contract is posted on the wall, and anyone who enters has to sign and abide by the agreement.
There are some non-negotiables though...school policy overrides my policy...especially with zealous administrators. Plus you really don't want to go against school policy because it creates an inconsistent environment and is bad for school morale. Just tell the kids - in the case of no late work - that while you don't agree with the policy, you have to follow it but to be sure and let you know if there are extenuating circumstances. Then work on your campus advisory team to try to change the rule.
As far as taking advantage of power...have the kids help you set the consequences of misbehavior...that'll help you when it comes time to enforce a rule.
I basically tell my kids that I'm a benevolent dictator...we have to follow some rules but how we get along in the classroom is up to us...however...when push comes to shove, I'm the adult and I'll do whatever is most necessary and best for the whole class. It's all about relationships, and they have to learn to trust your judgment.
Hope this helps.
First of all, congratulations on your new teaching job! It's going to be a time that you never forget, and something that you will want to end FAST so that next year you can incorporate all your new ideas.
Here is what I do with rules and procedures. I tell my students that there is only ONE classroom rule and that is RESPECT. From there you can discuss together what Respect is, and what it means. You can lead them by saying "Respect yourself, your classmates and of course your teacher".
As far school rules, teachers all do things differently. For example, I do not accept any late work, unless the student was absent. A math teacher on my team accepts late work for half credit, and the English teacher allows make up tests for poor scores. I don't agree with those ideas, but that's just me. You do what you feel is right for your classroom.
When it comes to students taking advantage of power, just remember that you are the Alpha Male and that students will follow your lead. If they see that you are soft, you will be in trouble fast. Stay strong and let the students see who is boss and even if they don't seem to like you at first, they will love you by the middle of the year.
Hang in there and remember we are all here to help you out! If you have questions don't hesitate to ask them!