Develop your classroom rules together the first meeting session of the year. Write them all on a poster board and title them with a Christian bent. Some titles I have used are:
- Golden Rules
- Classroom Covenant
- WWJD Rules
Create the Classroom Rules Collaboratively
Ask the kids to suggest positive behaviors that need to happen to have a classroom that Jesus would like. In order to make sure they cover all the key components refer to a pre-made list. This helps just in case you have a class of shy students who are slow to share ideas. Then you can quickly pull from your pre-made list to fill in gaps.
Classroom rule examples:
My basic list of important ones to include are:
- ONE person talks at a time.
- LISTEN to other people when they talk.
- TREAT each other as you would want to be treated!
- RESPECT others ideas and opinions.
- ONLY PUT UPS not put downs
- STAY in your space and don’t invade other peoples’ space.
- USE the “take a break” chair when told to do so.
Below are 2 pictures of my classroom rules from 2 different years.
Sign the Classroom Rules and Display them at every class!
Make sure that you and every kid signs the rules. This act signifies that all agree to follow them. This will make enforcing them easier (keep reading below…). Post them in a central spot every class session.
Using and Enforcing the Classroom Rules Effectively:
The most important part of the rules is making sure the students follow them. When facilitating interactive activities that have students work together, behavior can sometimes get out of line, When a student is not honoring one or more of the rules simply say something like:
- Johnny, when you keep blurting out you are not following our classroom rule #1. I see your signature here on the poster. Didn’t you agree to follow them?
- Susie, your behavior is violating rule #3. This is preventing other students from learning. Why are you doing that?
If the student still does not get back on track after these prompts then I enforce the “Take a break chair” Rule
“Take a break chair” Rule Explained
I love the rule of “Use the take a break chair when told to do so”. It helps to address inappropriate behavior is a simple, calm manner. The “take a break chair” is simply designated by setting a chair off to the side of the main classroom area. When students misbehave or are significantly off task, I do not believe in sending them out of the classroom since class is only an hour. Instead I ask the offending kid to sit in the “take a break” chair for a specific interval (typically 5 or 10 minutes). I tell this student what time on the clock he/she can rejoin the group. I make the offending person be in charge of watching the clock for knowing when time is up. At that time, he/she can quietly rejoin the group activity. I never threaten a student that they may need to be sent to the “take a break” chair. I think it is important for the kids to understand that its use is a non-negotiable rule used when offenders continue bad classroom behavior. If there is a warning leading up to sending someone to it, I think it devalues its usefulness.