Classroom rules are one component of setting up classroom routines and a safe environment for learning. Teachers can help kids feel free to learn without worrying about personal safety.
Students experience their classroom differently than adults experience their workplace...but not by very much. Think about how you feel about your place of work - It's not home, but you do spend a lot of time there and (if you like the place) you kind of settle in and start to feel like it is a safe, comfortable place to be.
Home away from home
Kids have an emotional need to feel the same way...multiplied by their innocence and the fact that six hours a day at school feels long a REALLY long time to them.
There are a lot of components to creating an emotionally and physically accepting environment for children (such as classroom team building ) but the first criteria is that it is safe and orderly. That's where you come in...
Classroom rules can be simple and still remain very effective. In fact, I would make the argument that if they aren't simple and easy for the kids to understand, they won't have a great impact on behavior.
Rules are "big picture" - which is why they should be simple and few.
Expectations, which are nearly always verbal, are numerous and fill in the gaps.
Taken together, they form the basis of enduring classroom routines.
Speaking of rules and expectations, many schools have dress codes that must be enforced. Most are pretty basic, such as:
However, depending on the neighborhood, there may also be dress code rules regarding gang clothing items. Regardless of the basis of the rules, be sure to enforce them; this is definitely an area where students will "push the envelope,"...and push it farther and faster if they sense any wavering.
Child hygiene can become an issues at any grade level, although it can escalate a bit as the kids get older and experience increases in hormones. Most hygiene situations come down to personal cleanliness, and therefore must be handled in a very sensitive manner.
Involving your counselor, or sometimes even your school nurse in situations involving head lice, is highly recommended.
Speaking of child safety, teachers in most states are "mandatory reporters" when it comes to suspected child abuse. This means that you MUST speak up if you suspect abuse, but you are definitely not in this boat alone. Again, your counselor will be involved and your principal must be notified as well.
Just be certain to be tenacious on this topic. There are a lot of parties involved in an abuse scenario (child, parents, school, police, state agencies) and sometimes the coordination, process and paperwork can drag...while the child may continue to suffer physical or emotional harm.
A home away from home is our goal for the classroom...a place of safety where all attention can be focused on learning and kids are free to be kids.
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Classroom Rules Examples
Keep them simple for greatest impact
Cell Phones in the Classroom
Setting limits for personal technology