Last year, I adapted a set of classroom rules. These rules are based loosely on the idea of Whole Brain Teaching, and are influenced by a few teachers that I know. There are only five rules, and they are fairly simple and easy to remember.
1. Listen when the teacher is talking.
This is always on my class rules, no matter how many times I change them. I try to make sure that I’m concise and succinct when I’m talking to my kids, because their attention spans only last for about three minutes (or so it seems). But the bottom line is that when I’m talking, they should not be.
2. Follow directions quickly.
I think that if you asked any teacher in the world what they’d like to improve on as a teacher, they’d say that they want to reduce wasted time in the classroom. The most mundane things waste the most time, and we barely have enough time to teach everything we need to cover in the first place. Students need to follow directions, and they need to do it quickly.
3. Keep hands and feet to yourself
I teach fifth grade. Let’s be serious. There are very, very few times when the students need to physically be close to one another. Some years, it’s not a problem. This year, hormones were raging in my room. For that reason and for general safety reasons, we keep hands and feet to ourselves.
4. Raise your hand to speak or stand.
Again, this comes from Whole Brain Teaching, but I absolutely love this rule. Do you know why? Because it rhymes. That’s all I need in my life. Simple pleasures. Anyway, it’s easy for the kids to remember because of the rhyme, and it’s absolutely necessary. Usually I slack off on the kids a little partway through the year when it comes to this rule, but when the year begins, I need them in their seats, not wandering around the room aimlessly while I teach.
5. Be safe, be kind, and be honest.
This is my absolute favorite of the five. I’ve seen many variations of this one, but to me, this pretty much covers it all. Be safe – that covers a multitude of infractions. Be kind – here I emphasize that we all want to be treated nicely, and the way to ensure that it will happen is to be a friend to others and show kindness daily. Be honest – I place so much emphasis on honestly in my classroom. Fifth graders will lie in a heartbeat, and not have a clue that “I met a man who was a prisoner during the Holocaust. He had a number tattooed on his arm and everything. Yep. He is 26 years old!” is not a very believable lie. (Yes, I really had a student tell me that once.) Honesty is important, and I try to teach my students how important it really is.
I made a poster with these five rules listed. It’s available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store as a free download (in four different color themes!). If you’re interested, go check it out!