Helping Teachers Establish Rules
Tips for administrators on how to reinforce positive behavioral norms in your school
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
A disciplined learning environment encourages increased time on task, positive classroom participation, and improves learning. Clear classroom rules are useful in controlling day-to-day problems and help to prevent disjointed class time and behavior violations. Being prepared with concise, well-defined classroom rules establishes your authority, sets routines, and outlines your behavior expectations — encouraging better-spent learning time.
Establishing positive behavioral norms in your school begins with how you influence your teachers and is reinforced by the examples that you, the school leader, provide for them. Because the ultimate goal for teachers is to spend less time disciplining and more time teaching, it is important to create guidelines for class management that are adaptable and are sure to increase their management potential.
Think of fresh ways to provide tangible models to your staff. Distribute printables that outline simple, usable class rules to both teachers and students. Laying foundations by providing concrete resources that teachers can refer back to is helpful. Set aside special time for teacher training — offer a pre-service day designed specifically for familiarizing your staff with examples of innovative rules, tips, and success stories that will inspire and motivate them.
When creating model rules, you should:
- define expectations by distributing a school-wide code of conduct
- encourage teachers to develop a management philosophy before they enter their classroom
- develop well-defined, tangible, plainly-worded rules — the simpler the better
- encourage practical, useful expectations that are short in length and easy for students to remember: "respect others;" "raise your hand;" "be patient"
- support consequences that are logical and to the point
- offer teachers some ideas on classroom activities that would help illustrate rules and consequences for better student understanding, like role playing, trivia or researching codes of contact that other institutions implement
- suggest that teachers and students come up with class rules together; students are far more interested in following guidelines that they had a hand in developing and respond more openly to ideas that are not strictly enforced upon them
- advocate the use of positive language among your staff
- remind teachers that the reason for rules in the first place is to benefit the flow of learning and not to create a rigid, fearful environment for students
- enforce that if and when the rules are broken, be sure that teachers understand that it is the behavior that deserves the predetermined consequence and not the student
- train teachers to always adhere to keeping consequences; it is crucial to effective classroom management
- ensure that all teachers are familiar with district policies and regulations
- send the rules home for parents to review.
Here are some great articles and practical strategies from master teachers that your teachers may also find helpful:
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