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Classroom rules are very important to have a well-managed and safe learning environment. Teachers can come up with many and various rules including, “no chewing gum,” “no running with scissors,” etc. etc. But students will have trouble following a list of classroom rules that is longer than they are tall. It is best to focus on just a few very important classroom rules, and go from there.
The three most important and all encompassing classroom rules that you can have are: respect yourself, respect others, and respect your environment. At the beginning of the school year, you can have your students help you come up with these three classroom rules. Or, you can simply state them and then have your students brainstorm exactly what these three classroom rules mean. It is important to involve the students in your classroom rule-making. They are more likely to follow rules that they themselves have created.
As a classroom rule, this one can be one of the most confusing to students. Usually students are told what not to do because those actions are ones that bother other people. Often times, students are told to obey classroom rules but not explained to why. Respect yourself, though, this rule is nearly self-explanatory, but still confusing.
If you catch a child running across ice, for instance, you can ask her, “Are you respecting yourself? No? Why not?” And the child may then understand that she could fall and hurt herself, and that is why she should not run on ice. Or maybe a student will not bathe or will not do a homework, assignment. There are many actions that can possibly fall into the category of this first classroom rule.
There are many actions that fall under this category of classroom rules: name-calling, pushing, screaming, talking back, stealing, etc. etc. Whenever a child act out against another person, even yourself, you can ask him if he is “respecting others.” Then you should explain (or have him explain) how he is not respecting others and what he could do instead.
Respecting the environment means not littering or polluting and conserving water, but the “environment” can also be your classroom or school property. Respecting the environment includes not doodling on desks or slamming doors or throwing books and many, many other things.
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