Last week I attended a Responsive Classroom workshop where I learned how to create powerful classroom rules based on the hopes and dreams of my students. Powerful, simple and clear classroom rules allow students to fulfilled their social, emotional and academic dreams.
How to Create Powerful Classroom Rules?
During the beginning of the school year, brainstorm what hopes and dreams each student has for the new school year. Give them a day or two to decide which one they will like to share with their classmates. You can share your dreams and hopes as their teacher too! Create a display with all of their hopes and dreams.
Once you have created a beautiful display for their dreams and hopes, you can start chatting with your students about what makes good classroom rules. To create your classroom rules ask them what type of rules there has to be to fulfill each and one of their hopes and dreams. If my hope is to make new friends, I have to be kind and respectful. If my hope is to learn how to write in cursive, I need to practice and do my homework.
Once you have recorded everyone’s ideas, draw three columns on a chart paper to create three rule categories. These three categories (place, each other and self) will help your classroom rules be clear, easy and short. The first category is about the space we use to learn and play. If we want to be able to learn and play, we need to take care of our school furniture and materials. How we treat each other is the second category. The last one is about taking care of yourself. This category can be confusing for your students but probably a few of their ideas already recorded fit into this category. For example, if I want to learn how to write in cursive, I will need to practice and pay attention to the lesson. Therefore, I need to be responsible for my own learning.
Your classroom rules can look like this:
Use school materials carefully.
Let everyone learn.
Be ready to learn.
Creating together straightforward and positive classroom rules together will help your students have a sense of belonging and ownership, which is essential to adapt successfully to a new environment.
If you will like to learn more about Responsive Classroom approach here is a Q&A.