Working as an educator can be incredibly challenging. I recently wrote about how to get students excited for the upcoming school year, but it’s also important to make sure you set the correct tone for the year. You want students to be excited and have fun in your classroom, but it’s also necessary that they learn and respect any classroom rules you have. There’s a delicate balance between having fun and focusing on the subject students need to learn.
Create them together
Depending how old your students are, it can be a good idea to work on developing classroom rules together. Instead of simply telling your students what the rules are and expecting them to follow them, take time to think up rules together. You can also develop your own rules, but ask if students think they should be altered in any way or if they have rules they think should be added.
Explain your reasoning
When you present the classroom rules to your students, also take the time to explain why the classroom needs those rules. Have a group discussion where students can ask questions and offer their input. Even if you do not want students to create the rules with you, it’s important to explain why the rules are what they are. Once students understand your rationale, the rules will make more sense to them and are easier to follow.
Highlight the benefits
Understanding rules help students to follow them, but it helps when students understand the benefit of the rules. If students can see how the rules benefit them, they’ll want to follow them for those benefits. You can also offer tangible benefits and rewards to students who follow the rules.
Incorporating games into learning rules can help students remember them and makes the task more fun. Instead of making your students sit still and listen to you talk, come up with some ideas that turn learning the rules into fun activities. Students of all ages will enjoy having something to do and are more likely to remember what they learned.
Do not be authoritarian
Finally, when you present and reinforce your classroom rules, avoid being completely authoritarian. You want your students to respect you, but you need to respect them as well. Pay attention to your tone and be aware if you’re coming across as very intimidating. You want students to feel comfortable talking to you and that they respect you, not that you’re too severe.