Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rules in the Classroom


Every teacher’s goal is to promote a learning environment that fosters the growth and maturation of each child. This goal is reached by setting general guidelines and rules for students to follow. These rules are usually developed and reinforced by the teacher. Rules provide discipline to a learning community and are a vital aspect in structuring the classroom. Although I could possibly teach any elementary grade level, I chose to focus on the rules of a Kindergarten classroom because that is ultimately the grade I desire to instruct. The You Tube video I discovered, Power Teaching Kindergarten: “Class Rules” by Chris Biffle is a brilliant tool to enforce learning the rules of the classroom.

This You Tube video was a unique representation of a fun way to memorize the classroom rules, instead of the rules simply being posted on the wall, or recited in the beginning of the year. I liked that the teacher let a student lead in the reciting of the rules. By doing so, the student is receiving a special privilege by being in the leader position, and the students are likely to have a better attention span.

I felt the rules listed in the video were perfect for the grade level being taught. The rules are: listen while your teacher is talking, follow directions quickly, respect others, respect yourselves and respect you school, raise your hand to speak, and be safe, be honest. I thought this list of rules was appropriate for the kindergarten level, since children of this age group can only retain and comprehend a certain amount information.

The most interesting part of the video was not that the students completed a series of actions when reciting the rules, but that the actions corresponded to the words they were reciting. Since the actions and the words went together, the students could rely on both as tools for recognition, further sealing the words in their minds.

I believe in the concept of positive reinforcement. I liked the chart that the teacher hung on the board with stars and smiles to represent weekly or daily rewards. I think rewarding children for positive behavior is a wonderful way to provide incentive to behave in class. I also like that there is a section on the chart for sad faces to remind students that bad behavior does not earn a reward. Although the rewards the students earn do not have to be extravagant, I agree that these small incentives are a helpful tool in controlling a class of young children.

The teacher in this video had very good classroom management skills; the classroom energy level was high, yet controlled, and the students appeared to be actively participating. At the end of the video, it stated that power teachers rehearse their class rules several times a day: at the start of school, after each recess, and after lunch. Reciting the class rules keeps the principles of proper classroom behavior fresh in student’s minds. Also, students are reminded daily to respect themselves, each other, and their school, with is an essential moral necessary for a thriving school community.

The second classroom rules resource I found informative is Elementary Classroom Rules and Management. I support methods that promote student involvement, which is exactly what this website suggests. Leah Davies, M.Ed. believes that students can partake in a discussion to develop rules as a class. By including student's in this thought process, the students can determine for themselves what is important to value and adhere to in the classroom. Perhaps if the students have difficulty creating rules, the teacher can ask the students questions to prompt and guide the ideas of the students. This process may help mold student’s responses to develop more specific rules.

Once the rules are established and agreed upon by the students and the teacher, this website suggests that the teacher compose a paper for each student to sign and display around the classroom. By reviewing the rules the students constructed and signing the rules contract, students know what is expected of them and are forced to accept the consequences if these rules are not adhered.

Elementary Classroom Rules and Management also explained that teachers should follow a sequence so that students are aware of the repercussions of their disruptive behaviors. Effective classrooms are built upon structure. Elementary Classroom Rules and Management provides an example of a possible teacher's management plan for individual students. First infraction: Name on board. Second: Student writes down the rule that he/she broke. Third: Student looses ten minutes of recess. Fourth: A parent is called or a note is sent home for the parent to sign and return. Fifth: The student is sent to the principal. If students understand what is expected and know the ramifications of their actions, perhaps they will not engage in the behavior, for fear of disappointing the teacher or getting in trouble.

Every teacher should maintain flexibility in disciplining students. At times, the teacher may choose to meet with the students individually to assess the problem. A student may be participating in disruptive behavior and acting out in class because of an issue at home or school. By talking to the student individually, the teacher can develop a comprehensive view of the problem and determine the best way to handle the situation.

Blog Resources:

Davies, L. (2007, April). Elementary Classroom Rules and Management. Retrieved May
29, 2009, from Kelly Bear Press Incorporated Kelly Bear Web site:
http://www.kellybear.com/TeacherArticles/TeacherTip72.html

Biffle, C. (2009). Power Teaching Kindergarten (1): "Class Rules." Retrieved May
29, 2009, from You Tube Web site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akh4mj3rsGs

1 comment:

  1. I've learned about Classroom Rules from a book by Janis Gioia, called The Wolf Pack Classroom Management Plan which is full of wonderful ideas.
    It gives teachers an easy-to-implement program that meets these needs and helps all children reach their full potential.
    Something every teacher could keep on hand, so we bought this book for my son's kindergarten teacher.

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