Thursday, August 2, 2012

Classroom Expectations

This summer, I took a six-week course on classroom management in hopes of getting some fresh ideas to use in the fall. I think classroom management is something we can all improve on, and I was looking forward to learning some new strategies, but I wound up being a little disappointed in the class. It wasn't as helpful as I had hoped, but it did prompt me to do some major reflection on my classroom rules and expectations.
As you may remember, this will be my third year of teaching. I started my reflections by looking back on the set of rules and expectations I used in previous years.

First Year

In the weeks before starting my first year, I drank the Harry Wong koolaid. After reading The First Days of School, I became convinced that I needed only the three expectations (that were supposed to be) common to all classrooms at my school:
  1. Be respectful.
  2. Be responsible.
  3. Be resourceful. 
I found out on the first day of school that even though we were all technically supposed to use these expectations, no one had ever explicitly taught our students what they meant. In fact, though they were printed in six-inch letters on a banner hanging in the hall, no one ever discussed the expectations with the students. You can probably imagine how my first day of classes went. As it turned out, my kids needed clear rules that left no room for discussion. Although I did eventually rewrite and reteach the rules, I let the chaos reign for far too long. I really struggled that year, and so did my students.

Second Year

I knew right off the bat that I would need rules that were specific and clear. The rules I finally decided on were:
  1. Review the student handbook and know that all school rules apply in this classroom.
  2. Bring all materials to class.
  3. Be in your seat and ready to work when the tardy bell rings.
  4. Raise your hand and request permission before speaking or leaving your seat. 
  5. Show respect to everyone in the class. 

This Year

I'm still working on my rules for this year. I've been toying with the idea of having four or five major rules, and discussing with my classes all of the things that fall under these main categories. In my classroom, I would post the major rules and list specific actions beneath them (a la Sarah). Here's how that would look in my classroom:

I am thinking that this may be a little too much information for the ninth graders I will teach this year though this list would have been perfect for my 7th and 8th graders last year. I'm still tweaking these for sure.

Show kindness and respect to everyone. 

  • Help and encourage your classmates. 
  • Use only appropriate language.
  • Give the speaker your undivided attention.
  • Leave he classroom and your desk area better than you found it.

Be prepared to work hard, then do it. 

  • Use your time wisely.
  • Stay organized and on task.
  • Participate and ask questions.
  • Complete and submit all assignments on time.
  • Keep working until you have been dismissed (by the teacher, not the bell).

Do not do anything to keep the teacher from teaching or the students from learning.

  • Follow all directions the first time they are given.
  • Avoid unnecessary distractions. 
  • Raise you hand and request permission before speaking or leaving your seat.

Be ready to work as soon as you enter the classroom.

  • Bring required materials to class daily.
  • Turn in your homework as soon as you enter the classroom. 
  • Sharpen pencils before class.
  • Be in your assigned seat when the tardy bell rings. 
  • Begin the bellringer ASAP.

Follow all school rules.

  • Keep personal electronic devices turned off and out of sight. 
  • Do not eat or drink in the classroom. 
  • Be sure that your clothing meets dress code standards at all times. 

EDIT: I just read Daniel's post on teaching students norms and rules, and I think I may incorporate some of his ideas this year. I especially like the way he teaches norms.

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