Classroom Rules / by Kenneth Buff

I'm taking an online class and this weeks assignment in a behavior class I'm taking is to make classroom rules. Since I already teach a class, it wasn't very difficult to compile my list. Here it is in all it's glory:

I teach a special ed classroom at Skyline elementary for students with academic and emotional needs. I teach KG through 4th. Here are five original classroom rules I have for my room.

1.) Only two people can be in the firetruck tent.

2.) The firetruck tent and the reading buddies are for reading, not playing.

3.) Everyone's needs must be met (teacher's and students').

4.)  In Mr. Buff's room we practice non-violent communication when we have disagreements.

5.) If our hands go in our mouths we must wash our hands or use the sanitizer.

(Rules 3 & 4)

Most of these rules will be discussed the first day of services with my students. I'll stand in front of the class, I'll model what emotional needs are, and we will compile a list of our emotional needs on the board (the kids will be very involved with this) and then once I've done this with all my groups (I'll take a picture of each classes needs on the board so I can compile them later) I'll compile them onto the bulletin board so the students will be able to see the needs that we've decided as a class must be met by everyone for us to feel safe and comfortable. If these needs are not met we will use non-violent communication with whoever is involved in the situation until we have come to an agreement on how to have everyone's needs met. I will teach the students how to use non-violent communication by modeling the skill, and through guiding them by being the mediator during disputes (all disputes will require non-violent communication in my class).

These rules will be effective because students do not want to be angry, and using non-violent communication elevates anger, and satisfies everyone's emotional needs. Having the rule about emotional needs needing to be met will be effective for the same reasons. No one wants to be unhappy, so as we build our class community and discuss feelings the students will feel become better able to realize when their behavior has interfered with someone else's needs.

(Rules 1 & 2)

The rules about the fire truck are mostly logistical. It's a big tent, and we could squeeze in about four third graders, but it's just too crowded for that, and it's too distracting to have that many children that close together (not a lot of reading happens when you have four kids sitting side by side in a cloth firetruck tent). So the rule exists to meet our academic objectives of becoming better readers, and the children respect this rule because it makes sense. When this rule is violated I remind them (redirect them) that the rule is that only two students can be in the firetruck tent, and that they need to figure out who's going to stay in and who's going to leave to find another reading spot. They almost always sort it out themselves.

The tent is only for reading because I teach academics, so that's what we use it for. The kids understand this, but if they forget I remind them, tell them what I need from them, and they almost always comply in a reasonable amount of time. If they do not comply in a reasonable amount of time, we have a discussion about it (using non-violent communication, I would explain my needs that are not being met and how that makes me feel. I would ask them to help me come up with a plan to meet my needs and their needs).

These rules are effective because the kids understand why they exist, and they perceive them as being just rules.

(Rule 5)

This one is mostly because it just grosses me out. It's more of an unspoken rule that my kids who like to stick their hands in their mouths find out about me, because I ask them to use the purell every time they do it. The kids understand that this is considered a health thing because germs live in your mouth, and when you stick your hand in it you get germs on your hands. I've never had a kid not comply when I've asked them to wash their hands or use the purell, but if I did, I would explain to them why it's important to wash the germs off their hands (lots of students use the work area they are in, some of the younger kids may have a week immune system, it's gross, etc.).

This rule is effective because the kids understand why it exists and usually agree that germs are bad, or at the very least understand that other people think it's gross (including me) so they conform to the social norm of washing their hands (thank goodness).