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When making your list of rules, first consider your expectations for behavior. How do you want them to behave while at their desk, during a lesson, in the hallway, as well as with each other? It’s generally not a good idea to provide too many rules, so classroom rules should be comprehensive. You should also consider which character behaviors you would like them to improve upon as part of their life building skills. Which traits and behaviors would best suit your homeroom classroom needs? Here are a few ideas for classroom rules for a homeroom class.
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Follow teacher directions immediately. If an adult has asked a student to do something, students show respect by responding immediately, not when they choose.
Raise your hand and wait to be called on before speaking. This will teach students to be patient as well as to not interrupt while others are speaking.
Work quietly so that you do not create a physical or verbal disruption. Causing a distraction keeps the teacher from doing their job and the other students from completing their jobs. This is an excellent opportunity to teach students about using inside voices.
Bring all materials to class. Students must learn to view their time in class as a job. Without their tools, they cannot complete their jobs.
Remain in your seat during a lesson or while the teacher is making announcements. This is a great lesson to teach students about being attentive when a speaker is present or a teacher is delivering a lesson. Getting up and out of one’s desk is considered rude to the speaker, creates a disruption, and is a distraction for others. Students should raise their hands for emergencies or say “excuse me" to get a teacher’s attention.
Be quiet while in line outside of class. Noises in the hallway are a distraction for other students trying to work. Students should move silently as if their goal is that other students will never realize they passed by their room.
Participate. In a classroom, every student matters. Teachers count on students to demonstrate their creativity, curiosity, and comprehension by participating in class. Build a sense of confidence in students by praising every answer, whether it was correct or not. By doing so, you’ll acquire more students willing to participate and risk an answer.
Walk in the hallway. Just like speeding is not allowed on public roads, running in the hallway is not allowed in school because it is considered a safety hazard for others in the hallway or even the person running.
Address all adults in a proper manner. Students must learn to not talk back, be sassy, sarcastic, or display a negative attitude. If they feel upset, they should speak about the matter in private in a courteous way. Just because we feel a certain way about a person doesn’t mean we need to display our emotions in a disrespectful or ill-mannered way.
Keep areas clean and neat. Students must dispose of all trash, push in chairs and make sure desks are straight, and keep books and supplies in order and stored in the proper place.
Silence during morning announcements. Students must listen to all announcements and not cause any sort of disruption at this time.
Stand and respect the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and any moment of silence. Depending on your school's morning routine, demonstrate how students should show respect and honor to the flag.
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The Value of a Routine
When creating and enforcing rules for a homeroom class, it sometimes helps to establish a routine for particular tasks. Explain each step in the routine and then provide a demonstration. Also, demonstrate the wrong way to go through a routine so that if students are considering acting outside the routine, they’ll understand their behavior is not allowed. With practice, explanation, and enforcement, students will soon understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Here are a few ideas for areas where you need to set up a routine with your homeroom class:
- What to do upon arriving in class
- How to walk down the hallway
- What to do during transitional periods in class
- What to do during lunch time
- Expected behavior during a presentation
- Fire drill and campus lock-down procedures
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Reinforce Proper Behavior and Actions with Praise
A kind word can work wonders on a person’s self-esteem. Make sure you offer verbal praise to students individually or as a class for a job well done. Other ways to offer praise are to provide stickers or stamps for students who do what they should do, have a seat of honor in your classroom, share free gift certificates, or simply allow the student to be first in line, first to read, first to eat, or any other type of privileged behavior. Finally, recognize every student for their abilities and successes at some point during the year. Every student deserves to feel special for at least one moment during the year.
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Make sure to display the classroom rules for a homeroom class. Share your behavior expectations with your students. If it’s a visible rule, enforce it. If you have a routine, practice it. Praise the good, correct the bad, and take advantage of every opportunity possible to explain why the rule is a rule. Examples and real life connections will help your homeroom class latch on to your rules and create positive habits that will guide them through the structured school setting for the rest of their educational careers. Reinforcing good character traits will serve as a guide for student behavior as they grow into outstanding young adults.
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References and Resources
Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics: http://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html
Author’s personal experience