Classroom Rules 2

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Class Rules

Lack of recall of the rule

Some class rules are fixed and apply all the time. Others apply only at certain times such as when the teacher is talking or the teacher gives a particular instruction. It is these latter rules that are more likely to be easily forgotten. Younger children will quickly suffer memory fade especially when engaged in any task as will older students with weak working memory. As a teacher it is easy to become exasperated by students who continually need reminding of rules. However, having some patience and understanding with their forgetfulness can avoid the risk of escalating the situation further. Equally, providing additional pre-emptive prompts in the form of praise work well. For a few students having some form of visual reminder is necessary. For example, use of small laminated cards with the rules written on them that can be placed on the student's table. See the warning triangle resources as an example of this.

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Lack of self-control affecting the rule

Some students will have medical conditions that make it more challenging to follow certain rules. This is particularly so for individuals with ADHD and also a few students with sensory needs. ADHD students are more likely to have difficulty with rules regarding listening, particularly being still or quiet. Those that present with impulsive behaviours do not do so out of choice but rather through a lack of sub-conscious self-regulation that non ADHD individuals have. This means that they can frequently act without thinking. This lack of conscious thought supervising their behaviour is observed when ADHD students call out, fiddle with things, move around the classroom or chat with friends.

Supporting these students to develop greater self-awareness of their behaviour in a positive and constructive way is important. It helps avoid the negative spiral of poor behaviour that is often a result of criticism and sanctions. Instead, an empathic approach that encourages students to develop conscious self-monitoring of key behaviours and gives reminders in a casual, non-confrontational manner, is more likely to have long term success.

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Lack of ownership of the rule

Most of us do not like to have rules imposed on us. At the same time we like rules that make us feel safe and secure; give us equality with our peers and protect us from wrong-doing. When we like a rule we tend to take shared ownership and are more likely to abide by that rule. When we don't think a rule is fair or just we are more likely to transgress that rule. Part of that ownership comes from fully understanding the need for a rule and what happens without it.

It is worth setting aside time at the beginning of the school year to discuss and agree a set of class rules. This discussion can include what the repercussions for breaking the rule will be, though this should necessarily be in accordance with the published disciplinary policy. It is important to be careful with this as you will judged on how fairly you apply any sanctions for every student who transgresses a rule.

Younger students may enjoy the process of creating the set of class rules and the teacher may be able to scribe this within a lively and positive discussion straight on to a poster. Older students tend to be less enthusiastic about this and a shorter more formal discussion can be used to gain agreement on a checklist of rules. Ideally, each should be given a personal copy of the rules so they can tick off each rule and sign.

This article is under construction and will be completed by January 2018.

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