Rules are made but too often broken. Establishing classroom rules is a top to-do in the first week of class. It is not surprising to find a generic set of rules in any given classroom such as:
Raise your hand to speak.
Use kind words and actions.
Listen quietly when others are speaking.
Use inside voices in the classroom.
Keep your hands and your feet to yourself.
But what happens when rules don’t work and you find your head spinning and the children out of control? You might be looking for the nearest corner to give yourself a “time out”.
When rules are consistently broken, is it because they are not being enforced, or they just don’t work?
First if the teacher fails to enforce the rules consistently and with fair and appropriate consequences then rules will be broken. The solution here is simple, take time to revisit the rules, discuss with your students the meaning of the rules and how they support their classroom community. Take a few minutes to model each of the rules and what happens if they are broken. Teacher: “Johnny do you know why we need to use inside voices when we are inside the classroom?” Johnny: “yes teacher it is so the students can pay attention.” Teacher: Thanks Johnny I knew you remembered why . Next time you yell you will lose five minutes of free time at workshop this week to think about your actions.”
The goal here is to empower the student to think about their actions and why they should follow the rules. Also you remind the student of the consequences. If the rule is broken again Johnny will have a consequence as a result of his action. This allows the teacher to remain emotionally objective. The student is responsible for their actions.
Second if the rules are consistently being broken it is important to think if perhaps the rules just don’t work. From a developmental perspective children are moving into different stages of cognitive development during elementary, middle and high school.