How you establish your classroom rules and procedures during the first few weeks of school can make the difference between a happy, productive year and a long, miserable one. Ask any veteran teacher and they’ll tell you, “Don’t smile until Christmas!” Of course, they aren’t meaning for you to take that literally. It’s just their way of saying that you need to be firm with your students until you’ve established your rules and procedures.
My own mother (a retired middle school teacher) used to add, “You can always lighten up later, but you can’t get meaner and expect kids to take you seriously.” It’s true! I’ve seen new teacher after new teacher fall into this trap. They come in wanting to win over their students because we “old” teachers “just don’t care” about our kids and are “too strict” on the poor babies. (I’m talking middle school here.)
Before it’s over, these teachers are living “The Nightmare.” You know the one I’m talking about. You’re teaching and Laron blurts out and you correct him. Then Melody does the same thing from across the room. You correct her, but another student has something loud to announce. You correct him. And then Bobby farts. It’s not one of those small-couldn’t-help-it kind, but the trumpeting bellow of a bull elephant kind with a smell just as large and as noxious as a waste treatment plant!
That’s the final straw. The kids erupt into falling-out-of-their-seats guffaws, you’re yelling uncontrollably and not a single student is listening. You’re done. It’s usually at this point that you sit straight up in bed, dripping in sweat and thanking a higher power that it was just a bad dream.
Every teacher friend I’ve ever known has had some version of that nightmare at one point in their lives. It’s what we teachers fear: total loss of control.
However, if you have a plan in mind and you know in your heart of hearts that what you do at the beginning of the year really does determine the type of year you’ll have, you are already on your way to teacher nirvana and a well-behaved group of students.
A Solution that Works!
Here’s a little something that’s definitely going to help you this year. It’s a set of six class rules. Each one starts with the letter “P”. Those rules are Be Prompt, Be Prepared, Be Polite, Be Professional, Be Precise, and Be Persistent. Keeping it simple helps students remember and makes it easier for you to remember the big picture rules as well. No more nit-picking the little annoying things kids do. Everything you want from your students will fall under one of these six rules. Late to class? Yes, student needs to be prompt. Didn’t bring materials? That falls under being prepared. Sleeps in class? Well now, you have a choice. That could fall under Be Polite, Be Prepared OR Be Professional. The choice is yours and the rules cover it.
But that’s not all, folks! As I was creating the 21 different sets of signs to choose from, I decided to add some of my activities/mini-lessons to go along with the signs, activities that help students understand and remember the rules. These activities even address some of the Common Core State Standards as well. (How’s that for impressing your administrators on the first day of school?) All are activities I’ve used in the past with great success. In fact, at my school, these rules and lessons were implemented school-wide and our district administrators were quite impressed that our students could tell them our six P’s!
Take a look at the preview package and definitely consider purchasing this set of rule signs and activities in order to make your year better. CLICK HERE or visit the link by clicking on the TPT logo below.