Classroom Behavior is a big topic, but I think that it is one that needs to be reflected upon even if your classroom is running well.
Establishing and implementing classroom rules
Jones and Jones stated that effective, general rules in a classroom should pertain to (a) health and safety (e.g., “Walk in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria.”), (b) property loss and damage (e.g., “Respect others’ personal property and touch it only with the person’s permission.”), (c) legitimate educational purpose (e.g., “Be on time for class and with all assignments.”), and (d) disruption of the learning process (e.g., “Ask for permission to speak before saying anything in the classroom.”).4 The following are characteristics of good classroom rules regardless of teaching level:
- The fewer, the better.
- It is wise to keep the number of rules to a minimum. For primary-level students, three or four rules should suffice; for older adolescents, as many as five or six may be necessary. There are ways to cover many activities in a rule by composing it in a broad fashion. Instead of limiting the rule to only the classroom (e.g., “Walk at all times in the classroom.”), a broader rule could state, “Always walk in the classroom, hallways, and cafeteria.”).
- Use simple language.
- There is no need to write elaborate rules with complex language. Just be direct and simple (e.g., “Raise your hand and wait for the teacher to call on you before speaking.”). If anything, direct, simple language allows for students to remember the rules more easily.
- Use a positive voice.
- If at all possible, write the rules in a positive format and tone. Try to avoid, “You shall not talk in the classroom without teacher permission,” by stating the same rule as, “Ask for permission to speak before saying anything in the classroom.”
- Special context, special rules.
- Different rules can be used for special situations and learning stations in the same classroom environment. Rules for using computers in a classroom (e.g., “Always use headphones when listening to music on the computer.”) can be made very specific to that activity and station only.
- Create an effective display.
- Rules need to be prominently displayed in the classroom or in a special activity area. When students are first learning the rules in the beginning of the school term they need to be bombarded and reminded of them as much as possible. Put them on a bulletin board, duplicate them on the classroom whiteboard, write them on a handout to distribute to class members, and place them in special activity areas (e.g., computer stations). I once witnessed a teacher hanging each classroom rule from the ceiling on both sides of long poster board for all to see in any section of the room. (Now that’s displaying them prominently!)