Creating Classroom Rules for Multiple Classes


Every school year I give students an opportunity to help create our classroom expectations/rules.  Many teachers use this same strategy. I feel like having students as part of this process is important and often encourages additional ownership since their input is being valued.  The expectations that are created are referenced through the school year.

This year I went with a different strategy for creating our classroom expectations.   After exchanging a few Tweets with William, I was inspired to create one set of expectations for all of my classes.  Keep in mind I teach multiple classes with different students.

To start, I gave each student a Post-it note.  Students were then asked to create two or more rules/expectations that they felt were necessary.  Some students had a huge list while others barely came up with two.  I used this strategy for all of my classes on Tuesday.  All of the responses were collected and compiled.

Photo Aug 25, 4 07 46 PM
This is about 1/4 of the total amount

During that evening I put together all the suggestions in a Google Doc.  I had to combine some of the responses because they were so similar. (click image to enlarge)

Photo Aug 27, 6 45 12 PM
Student ideas

All of the classes voted and came to a consensus.  In the end I tallied up the votes and the class expectations were shown to the students the very next day.  I displayed a graph and the class discussed the importance of the top five expectations. This was also an opportunity to discuss why expectations are needed in schools.

Reviewing student responses

After a classroom discussion, the top five expectations were chosen.  Students then placed their signatures around the expectations list.

Post-It NotesThe class then created anchor charts that gave clear examples of the different expectations.  I’m planning on keeping the charts up throughout the year and reference them as needed.

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This strategy seemed to work well.  I’m going to put it in my toolbox for future use.  How do you create expectations in the classroom?

Creating Classroom Rules

 Image by Federico Stevanin

It’s only been three days since school has started and so much has already taken place.  In reality, it  feels like three non-stop days of meetings and teaching.  Many teachers are recharging this weekend to begin again on Monday.  After reflecting on the last few days of school, I’m now starting to plan specific learning opportunities for next week.

Many community building activities were emphasized this past week.  My class created classroom rules during the first day of school.  This year I created the rules with my class and they are now posted on a bulletin board.  Most research that I’ve read indicates that when students are part of the creation of the rules, they are more willing to take ownership and model the rules in the classroom throughout the school year.

Here’s the rule creation process that I used this year:

  • Each student is given one Post-it note
  • The students are asked to not write their name on the Post-it
  • Each student writes down one rule that they think would benefit the classroom
  • I collect the Post-it notes and read each one to the class
  • If any student doesn’t agree with a rule they may communicate why it shouldn’t be a rule
  • The class “approves” each rule through consensus
  • After all of the rules have been read, the class starts to categorize the rules (since we can’t have 23 unique rules!)
  • After categorizing each Post-it, my classroom rules look like this:

Ground Rules
Respect Yourself and Others
Follow Procedures
Be Responsible
Do Your Personal Best

  • The rules are posted on a poster in the classroom
  • Students place their signature on the poster and then each individual Post-it note is placed around the poster (like a border)
  • I (and often students) refer to the poster to reinforce classroom expectations throughout the year
I’ve found that this callaborative activity encourages students to participate in creating a positive classroom environment.  It also provides students an opportunity to be responsible for creating the ground rules for the classroom. This activity gives students ownership and slightly shifts responsibility from the teacher to the student.  Detailed directions for this activity are located here.  Practical examples of this strategy can be found below.
The names in the above photo have been blurred.  Having students sign the rules  often encourages accountability.

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