Students will create class rules by determining what they would like their classroom to look like, feel like, and sound like in order for it to be a safe, fair, and fun learning environment. They will come to a consensus about what behaviors will lead to this goal, and what the consequences should be for not demonstrating the behaviors.
One to Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
- brainstorm characteristics of a safe, fun, and fair learning environment.
- determine what behaviors lead to that goal.
- categorize the behaviors into classroom behavior guidelines (rules).
- determine consequences for appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
- Chart paper
- Drawing paper, markers or crayons
- "Rules" poem (Attachment One)
- Rule chart (duplicated by teacher from student brainstorm)
- Handout 1
- Rules by Karla Kuskin
Tell the class that you have developed some rules for the class. Hand out the poem (Attachment One) or read the poem to the class and ask what they think about your rules. (Do these sound like good rules? Would following these rules help make the classroom a fun, safe, and fair place to learn?) Acknowledge that the poem is a joke, but having a good learning environment is very serious and requires everyone's best thinking and planning.
- Sitting in a discussion circle, ask the students to brainstorm what the classroom would sound like, feel like, and look like if it were a safe, fair, and fun learning place. Point out that the "Rules" poem is all about "do not." Ask the students to think about what they should "do" in their classroom. Have them think about what the students and teacher might be doing in a safe, fair, and fun learning place. Try to discourage negative responses such as "Nobody would be pushing anyone" or "Don't kick." Encourage the students to phrase their answers positively, such as "Everyone would keep their hands and feet to themselves." (This may be difficult for some students at first because they are so used to hearing "do not" or "no" from adults rather than hearing and visualizing positive behaviors.) Write the positive behaviors on a chart or chalkboard as the students make suggestions.
- Looking at the list of positive behaviors, guide the students into seeing that there are some natural ways to organize what they have said into a few clear rules. The organization will vary according to each class' list and discussion. Some may be grouped as safety concerns (always walk, use furniture the way it was intended to be used). Some behaviors are courtesy concerns (keep your hands to yourself, respect other people's property). Some may be learning concerns (use quiet voices, wait your turn, always try your best). Lists should be organized according to what makes best sense to the students in the context of the discussion. This is a good opportunity to introduce/use character words such as respect, caring, and honesty.
- Discuss what the roles of the students, teacher, parents, and principal would be if students were not ready to behave in the way agreed upon. Try to focus the discussion on consequences that would help the student(s) change the undesirable behavior.
- Day Two: (In preparation for this day, the behaviors and consequences agreed on from Day One should be printed out on a rule chart by the teacher for distribution to the students.) Review the positive behaviors developed the day before.
- Ask the students to draw a picture of the classroom they have envisioned, including themselves behaving in a positive way.
- Have the students explain their pictures to each other, presenting to the whole group or in small groups, indicating what good behavior they are modeling.
- Discuss why the rules are important to each student. Ask students whether all behaviors they observe are addressed in the rules. Discuss why they aren't all there.
In assessing student work, check to see that the following was accomplished:
- Students contributed to the discussion of positive behaviors.
- Students created reasonable consequences for those who need more time to develop the behaviors.
- A written list of class rules was formed from their responses.
- The classroom pictures clearly show them participating in a positive way, and students are able to verbally communicate that to their peers.
Attach the classroom behavior plan to the student pictures. Ask students to take their pictures home and explain to their parents what their classroom will look, feel, and sound like. Teachers may request that parents sign the plan and return it to school.
Develop rules for playground time, bus riding, or any other place that the children may meet as a group.