My first year of teaching, I had 2 rules. Work Hard. Be Nice. These were NOT specific enough. My second year of teaching, I didn't post any rules. This was not a good choice either.
As part of this process, I re-read Harry Wong's The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher. In this book, Wong suggests that a teacher should have no more than five rules for their classroom. After spending a lot of time thinking about what I want my classroom to look like, I settled on these five rules.
1. Be in your seat with all necessary supplies when the bell rings. I hate wasting class time. My students love to come waltzing into class minutes after the bell rings. My school has no consequence for tardies, so I'm going to make my own. I value my class time. My rules should reflect that.
2. Follow directions the first time they are given. I shouldn't have to repeat my directions a million times because students are doing their own thing and not paying attention. Once again, it comes down to valuing class time.
3. No cursing or teasing. My school has a major bullying problem. I need to be better at watching for these things and taking disciplinary action.
This year, I had a pair of students who thought that Algebra 2 was time for applying make up. No. I now see why my 9th grade English teacher had the rule of no grooming in class. For the past 2 years, I've let students have food and drinks in my classroom though it is technically against school policy. A few teachers enforce this. Most of the rest of us let it slide. But, I'm getting tired of students not throwing away their trash or spilling the giant Sonic drinks on my carpet. No more. The kids will probably hate me, but it will make my life better. No electronics. This year, I will not tolerate cell phones unless I have specifically told students that they may use them for an activity. My kids can't focus on me with an electronic device in front of them. We are not a BYOD school. Students are not supposed to have their cell phones out during class. If I enforce this from Day 1, I think the year will go a lot smoother.
5. Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself. I shouldn't have to make this a rule. But, I teach freshmen. And, freshmen boys tend to have some maturity issues. I've had students try to cut another's hair. I've had students draw on other students. I had one boy put glue on another boy's head. Yeah, I need this rule.
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