Classroom Rules Examples: Keep Them Simple for Greatest Impact
Classroom rules examples almost always err on the side of “too many”…way too many. After several years of teaching, I can confidently provide one of my classroom management tips: Classroom rules don’t hurt a bit, but they aren’t necessary for a strong, effective classroom community.
A figure of authority (that’s you!) who continually sets consistent expectations and holds kids accountable doesn’t need a list of rules on the wall to point to when behavior becomes a problem.
The classroom routines you establish will soon become behavior norms that the students follow without needing to refer to a wall poster.
But kids often expect to set some rules, especially on the first day of school, and some building principals want rules in place, so here’s how to make them work for you.
Rules about Rules
Just because complex classroom rules examples are provided by many experienced teachers doesn’t mean they are the most effective approach.
Don’t confuse rules with expectations. Your class will come to know that you have MANY expectations, from how to put the books away to the proper way to line up for lunch. There is no need to reduce all of these to rules. So “put the books away in the right place” is really incorporated in the rule “keep the classroom organized.”
But really…even keeping the classroom organized is an expectation, just a broader one the kids pick up on as they learn your classroom routines and how to do things the way you expect. Think even bigger, or guide the kids to think bigger if they are brainstorming ideas.
Keep it positive
Any rule should be written in the positive. For example, if a student suggests:
We won’t be mean.
…it should be turned around to say:
We will be kind and respectful.
That positive spin is what you are looking for in the outlook of your entire class in all areas, so it’s a really a good idea to have your rules reflect that.
The number one rule
So what is my number-one, all-you-really-need rule? The one I guide kids to year after year? Here it is:
Respect the learning and safety of others.
It’s my boiled-down summary of all the best classroom rules I’ve tried, based on various classroom management systems.
Broad. All-encompassing. Perfect.
Everything else fits under its umbrella, even something like “no cell phones in the classroom.”
The best classroom management tips are usually based on the simplest approach.
Now just put the rule or rules that you come up with on the bulletin board or white board for all to see, and then refer to it as needed.
My permanent classroom rule
But wait…when it comes to classroom rules examples, I must admit that I do have a permanent one that I dictate every year. In fact, I have it on a large poster that I never take down. Here it is:
Do you see the difference between “try something” and all the other possibilities we have talked about?
Most rules are focused on behavior…we just naturally think in terms of getting in or not getting in trouble when someone says the word “rules.”
But “try something” is a rule aimed at learning, at pushing oneself to become a better student, at working toward mastery. It is aimed at the very reason kids are in school – to become effective, independent thinkers.
It establishes my expectation that kids work their little brains hard to noodle through a problem before they raise their hand for assistance.
One Critical Expectation: Getting Student Attention
When reviewing possible classroom rules examples, one discussion that must be held is how you will get every student’s attention when you need to speak to the entire class for any reason.
There is no magic phrase and teachers have different preferences. Sometimes the kids will decide on a phrase that they have heard in the past. Just keep it short and it is generally good to use a brief countdown.
My most-common phrase is “Quiet in 3…2…1.”
This phrase should never have to be shouted. Practice until your class can give you their polite attention with even a quiet request.