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By Julie P. Schrimsher

There is no denying the fact that the existence of certain classroom rules secures discipline and promotes effective learning. The atmosphere in the classroom depends directly on the classroom rules established. In their essence classroom rules manifest teacher’s expectations of the students’ behavior.

The important condition of the classroom rules success is their implementation at the beginning of the school year. The regulations and the consequences of their breach should be made known to the students and referred to during the year in order for them to become a part of the school routine.

It is often advised to the teacher, willing to determine certain classroom rules, that he should do it together with the students. Their involvement and participation in making decisions that are going to affect them directly boost the chances of the classroom rules’ success, as the students feel empowered and are therefore stimulated to follow the rules.

Among the factors essential to be taken into the consideration by the teacher while determining appropriate rules is the adherence to general school rules. It is crucial that classroom rules do not contradict well-established and time-honored school rules. Compliance with such general regulations is indispensable.

Another ultimately important factor to consider is the type of environment that the teacher would like to create in the classroom. The teacher should base the classroom rules on his own expectations for the conduct of students. Brainstorming expectations should result into several staple rules for students’ behavior. It stands to reason that determining the consequences for breaking the rules is just as important as creating the rules themselves. Moreover, the students should be well aware of the imminent punishment for misconduct.

Another crucial factor to be taken into account is that the rule should have a clear educational purpose – such as securing efficient learning atmosphere for each student. Also the rule should be rationally related to achieving the abovementioned educational purpose.

Another factor that deserves to be mentioned is the clear meaning of the classroom rule. Vague regulations allowing for multiple interpretations are highly inefficient.

A factor that is of vital importance while determining classroom rules is the realization that different people comprise a group, which means that they may have totally different rules and reactions to them. Cultural diversity, various family situations should to taken into account by the teacher if he wants to achieve effective classroom management. Thus, it is reasonable to adjust the rules to the particular classroom. It is also required that the rules should be based on the implicit rules of the society.

In order to achieve student’s stable compliance with the classroom rules, the regulations as well as consequences of their breach, once established, should be clearly explained to the students. It has been proven by experience that resorting to praise and reward when the rules are followed is a highly efficient and successful strategy.

It is of great importance in case of a rule infraction that the teacher reacts immediately. However, the reaction should be calm. It is recommended that the incident is discussed with the misbehaving student after class in order to avoid excessive attention, which could serve as additional motivation to break the rules.

Any teacher, regardless of experience and major, knows how important it is to have a concrete plan of actions. Classroom rules enable the teacher to handle any situation with minimum disruption of the learning process and maximum instructional effect. They also serve an important purpose of teaching students discipline and responsibility.

References

Charles, C.M. (1981). Building Classroom Discipline: From Models to Practice. New York: Longman Inc.