Establishing the Ground Rules – Creating a Classroom Contract

teacherboards classroom decoartion

With the new school year approaching us it is important to consider the ground rules that need to be set in order to keep a steady and motivated classroom. Students need stability in order to process their daily routine and develop their self-control in terms of managing potentially stressful environments. For some teachers, this calls for the habitual use of traditional classroom structures. However, this particular educational strategy has been criticised for its lack of creativity and may not advantage school children in a consistently changing society. This blog post aims to discuss ideas and advice on how to maintain and happy yet controlled medium in the classroom.

Establishing the Rules

Establishing the ground rules of a classroom should be done straightaway. As students are beginning a new school year they have already been prepared for a certain amount of change, this provides teaching staff with an opening to initiate the new ground rules. It has been said that these rules should not be perceived as overbearing as children do not react well to a strict list of don’ts. Alternatively, you could turn your ‘Do not speak when the teacher is talking’ to ‘Keep quiet and listen to your teacher’. This sets a more positive tone, and although the first regulation is firmly set in place, the level of harshness is lowered. Children react better when they are told what they should be doing rather than what they shouldn’t. Studies have shown that children react more to the action of a sentence, thus telling a student ‘not to speak’ prompts them to speak rather than to ‘be quiet’. Furthermore, by explaining why these rules must be set in place in the classroom helps students justify why they should be following them. By showing how they can be beneficial to students to follow the rules is more influential than simply saying ‘no’.

Being Goal Orientated

Another method of establishing a working set of ground rules is to get students to create their own. This helps students see the regulations as goals to stick to and these rules are more likely to be followed when they are created by the student themselves. Hypothetically, a student may have been overly disruptive in their previous year, by highlighting this and asking the student what they should do instead will help them justify their own actions and act upon them more positively.

Display your Classroom Goals

Some classrooms have wall charts or devices that let their students know when they are going against the classroom regulations. Disciplining inappropriate behaviour immediately instead of giving the student the opportunity to change does not let them justify where they are going wrong. By pointing out when students are beginning to be disruptive helps children think about what they are doing and what the consequences may be. Another helpful tip is to emphasise the rewards system and let children see that it is beneficial for them to follow the rules, instead of always drilling them with consequences. These examples below can be a great way of nipping bad behaviour in the bud.

Source: beyondthegoggles, 3rdgradethought


Working Together & Creating Strong Relationships

Collaborating with your students creates the sense that you are with them and not against them. Although a strong, authoritative figure is essential in every classroom, teachers need to work with their students to develop a lasting and constructive relationship. As part of your classroom contract, why not interpret team building exercises that can become a part of your weekly timetable?

Be Open with your Students

By discussing the annual curriculum with your students at the beginning of the year helps your students become aware of what they should expect to learn throughout the year. Answering questions and explaining lesson plans can keep students on task and can avoid confusion.

Cementing the Rules

One idea of hypothetically cementing the classroom rules and regulations could be to display them in a lockable noticeboard in the classroom. This makes the written rules appear unchangeable and therefore must be followed throughout the year. These lockable noticeboards are available in an array of sizes and colours on the Teacherboards website.

teacherboards lockable noticeboard
Source: Teacherboards

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