First graders are often still adjusting to attending school for a full day, so establishing an effective set of classroom rules is essential. Be clear and consistent from the start and your year will be successful.
When starting off the new school year, setting clear and concise first grade classroom rules is a critical part of your overall classroom management plan. From day one you need to let your students know what you expect of them and what consequences will be in place when classroom rules are not followed. You can also revisit rules and make changes as necessary throughout the school year.
Many teachers like to involve students in selecting classroom rules. This can help the class take ownership of the rules and makes them more aware of why they are important. As you discuss and brainstorm ideas, talk about why each is important to your classroom community. In the end, it does help if you have a list of your own in mind so you can steer students in the right direction. Have the class brainstorm a list of possible classroom rules and take the chance to talk about why each is important. You may even want to engage them in an overall discussion of why we need classroom rules in place. What would happen if there were no established rules?
For first grade classroom rules, you will want to keep them short and simple. Students should know exactly what is expected when they read the rule; do not be ambiguous with rules such as "Be good." Be as specific. When possible, make each a positive statement. Instead of "Do not hurt others" use "Be respectful of others." Now, if you have a class that seems aggressive, the "Do not hurt others" may work better. You can talk with the class when writing the rules what it means to be respectful and share as a group some examples of actions that would be considered disrespectful. Only you know your class and what will work best to fit their specific needs.
Some suggestions for rules include:
- Actively listen to others and your teacher.
- Raise your hand to speak.
- Be respectful of others and their belongings.
- Clean up after yourself.
- Stay on task.
Your classroom rules should always be displayed, and you may even want to include a place where the students can all sign their name. This shows that everyone knows the rules and agrees to follow them. It is also a good idea to type up the rules and your consequences for parents to review. Include an attachment where they can also sign that they read the rules and are aware of your consequences. It may avoid awkward conversations at conference times.
Enforcing Rules and Assigning Consequences
Rules will not help with classroom management unless there are consequences assigned to them. Whatever system you have in place for rewards/consequences, be consistent. Your plan should involve a warning of some sort so that students have a chance to make better choices throughout the day. You can also download and use this problem solver to allow students to reflect on what rules they have broken and how they can make better choices in the future.
The most critical part of any classroom management plan is consistency. If you establish that students receive one warning before a consequence is assigned, then it has to be that way every day, with every student. You can't let that one student off the hook today because he is usually so cooperative. On the flip side, you can't be quicker to warn a student who is has behavioral challenges. If you want students to follow the rules, you must be willing to fairly enforce them.
Effective classroom management takes planning, and a lot of patience. With these in place, you can help your students have a successful school year and guide them toward being productive members of your classroom community.