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How-To: Manage Your Classroom
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How To: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom

Creating and Enforcing Rules Marianne Francone

There are important guidelines for the creation and enforcement of classroom rules, relative to all grade levels.

In Creating Rules:
Include the students in the decision-making process.

  • This creates ownership and empowerment.
  • The teacher may need to guide students somewhat.
  • State all rules positively.
    • If the students generate a rule such as "No Hitting or Name Calling," the teacher may respond, "Great rule. You are saying that we should 'Treat Others With RESPECT.'"
    • Rules stated positively imply an expectation and contribute to a positive milieu.

  • Limit the number of rules (I suggest 5-10).
  • Culminate with a brainstorming activity to evaluate and encourage the understanding of the rules. For example, if a rule says "Be Prepared," allow the students to brainstorm in small groups about what this rule implies. Here are some ideas:
    • Be Prepared
    • Have your homework
    • Have a pen or pencil
    • Dress appropriately for the weather and activities
    • Bring your gym clothes
    • Get forms signed
    • Etc...

When Enforcing Rules:
Make sure the students understand the consequences. Whenever possible, include the students in deciding consequences for rule infractions. Always comply with school policies and communicate "zero tolerance" where student safety is concerned.

  • Follow through; be consistent.
  • Communicate choices; empower students.
  • Involve parents.
    • Check for understanding; have the rules signed.
    • Have them brainstorm with the students as suggested above.
  • Make the punishment fit the crime.
    For example, a student may be assigned to clean the cafeteria for a week as a result of throwing food during lunch.
  • Provide feedback; help students process.
  • Use preventative proactive strategies in the classroom.
    • Proximity control - placing yourself near student(s) who may need your presence to encourage appropriate behavior.
    • Planned ignoring - purposeful ignoring to allow an inappropriate behavior to extinguish itself.
    • Vicarious reinforcement- giving purposeful reinforcement to those exhibiting a desired behavior. For example, "I like the way Jim is raising his hand."


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