Sunday, August 14, 2011

Developing Class Rules as a Community

If you've been reading my blogs, you know that I'm very focused on using recent brain based learning in my classroom.  One of the things that recent research has taught us is that letting children make some of their own choices helps the learning process.  I try to do this as often as I can.

At the beginning of the year, working together as a class to develop our class rules is a big part of the process. 

 I remind the children that we are in school to learn, and rules should be focused on how to make a safe learning environment.  I encourage the children to stay positive with the rules.  For example, rather than say "Don't hit.", they should say "Keep hands to yourself". 

Then I have the children brainstorm on their own. They brainstorm the rules we should have, the rewards that will come to children who follow the rules, and the consequences that should happen if children don't follow the rules.  The form I use is available free on HERE or click the image.

After brainstorming, I let small groups share.  If they heard an idea they like, they are welcome to add it to their own list as well. 

After the small group share, I collect the papers and briefly read the highlights from each child's paper to the group.  We all agree that most of the rules fall under certain categories such as "Follow directions" and "Be kind to your classmates." If there's a rule that I feel strongly about that no one came up with, I'll bring it up in class that day and ask if they think it should be on our list.  (I often have to point out to children that participation in class is expected.)

I tell the children I will take the lists home and type up a list that will include everyone's ideas.  Honestly, I almost always use the same form. If you're a follower of Whole Brain Teaching, you'll notice my rules are almost exactly the same. Once in a while they'll give a new idea for a reward, but typically, I rarely have to change the form from the year before.  Click the above image for a copy of last year's list.

I present the list to the children the next day.  I give them a day or two to practice the clip chart (strikes one, two, and three)  before the consequences "count".  (I start rewards the first day of school, including the "beanies on the desks", which is a favorite!) 

When the rules are well practiced, I'll send home the copy of the rules home with each child, along with the second page to be signed. "only if they think the rules are fair".  (I've never had a child who didn't believe they were fair, but again, that "choice" really makes a difference!)  I also make an extra large copy for the class.  We all sign that, too.  I usually invite the principal into class to sign our rules as well.  (They enjoy making a big deal out of it, and play along when I tell them they don't have to sign if they don't think the rules are fair!)  I've been known to ask other adults in the building to sign as well.  Again, I make sure the children understand that people only sign things they think are fair.

The developing of the rules as well as signatures is a valuable Social Studies activity in our grade level.   It's also a great "pre-activity" to Constitution Day, which will come up in just a few short

When a child gets up to the third level, they write a note to their parents about what happened, which is signed and returned.  The kids rarely get down to this level.  In fact, they rarely move their clips to the strikes at all.  I make sure they know it's a far better choice to behave.  After all, when children are following the rules, children are happy, and children are learning!  What could be better than that!


  1. I draw a distinction between rules and agreements. I teach them the Whole Brain Teaching rules up front, and then as we head to Constitution Day, we craft a series of agreements. Last year the agreements included things like play fair, use kind words and voices, etc. We wrote up the agreements using the Preamble language (In order to be safe, learn, etc) and everyone signed it. The rules have consequences, but broken agreements generally got a reminder ("You agreed that you would keep your hands to yourself. Did you forget that?") Every so often I got down the poster and we went over the agreements again.

    1. Great idea to refer to them as agreements! I've also heard some people refer to them as procedures. It all works!


  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome! I'm glad to share!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format