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How to set classroom rules that actually work!

Setting proper classroom rules is extremely important for maintaining order and encouraging the best behavior from your students. It’s how students learn classroom etiquette, their responsibilities, and your expectations from them. Though students may sometimes perceive these rules as harsh or unfair, they set a foundation for a positive learning environment where students learn, grow, and thrive. Establishing comprehensive, value-based rules in the classroom can instill positive behavior in students and is essential for their development.

But how do you make classroom rules that students respect and follow? As a starting point, consider involving your students in the rule-making process. When they take part in the process, they won’t constantly question why you’ve included those rules — they’ll have to answer that themselves!

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9 examples of classroom rules that students are more likely to follow

To help you out, here are a few classroom rules that students are more likely to follow. Use this list as a starting point to create your own set of adaptable rules with student involvement.

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Photo credit: Moose Photos

1. Always be on time 

Punctuality is one of the best habits that can be learned at school. Students should be taught that being on time is essential to keep the classroom running smoothly and that everyone should develop a fixed routine to reach school and be seated in the classroom before the bell rings. The same rule should be followed after lunch or recess breaks.

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2. Be respectful to others

Treat others the way you want to be treated. We’ve all heard it, but do you practice it in the classroom? It’s an ethical principle that students should learn as early as possible. 

Respecting their teachers at school and treating their peers with respect is a behavior that should be practiced until it becomes second nature. There should be a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of impolite behavior or bullying.

Students should also learn to be kind to others and to extend a helping hand to others whenever possible. Does a student witness a peer being bullied? They should be taught to stand up for others. Does someone need extra supplies? Sharing is quite literally caring in the classroom.

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3. Finish work on time

Unless any extension is provided by the teacher, all work or assignments should be submitted on time. This is how students learn to respect deadlines — and it’s an essential skill that will serve them well into adulthood. Late assignments should be given a lower score to encourage punctuality.

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Photo credit: Tirachard Kumtanom

4. Keep the classroom tidy

Students are responsible for keeping their classroom neat and clean. They should learn that it’s not acceptable to litter the premises with paper, supplies, or food. Students should also learn to use trash cans (and recycling bins!) properly. At the end of the period, students should work together to put supplies back where they belong and clean up any messes they spot.

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Photo credit: Megan Markham

5. Don’t disturb others during class lessons, and raise your hand if you want to ask something

While it’s tempting to chat with your peers, it’s disrespectful to other students (and the teacher). Students should know that they must devote their full attention to your lesson. 

Raising one’s hand when one needs to ask something is one of the basic rules that your students should follow in school. They should be told not to interrupt the teacher during class lessons. Frequent interruptions can drain the teacher’s valuable teaching time, which can make it difficult for students to get through the lessons you’ve planned.

restroom sign
Photo credit: Hafidz Alifuddin

6. Ask permission before leaving class

If students must leave your class to use the restroom or visit their locker, they should politely ask for your permission and/or use a hall pass.

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7. Line up quietly and wait for your turn 

Students should be advised to stand politely in the queue and patiently await their turn for anything (e.g., leaving class for lunch). Students should also be taught to respect each other’s personal space.

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Photo credit: Rawpixel

8. Actively participate in classroom activities 

Activities in the classroom are also an essential part of the learning process. Every student should be advised to actively and voluntarily take part. This is when students realize their hidden potential and learn to take responsibility for their own actions. Team activities help establish leadership skills, which play a great role when it comes to succeeding in this competitive world.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

9. Respect each other’s property 

Each student must care not only for their own property but also for the property of their peers and the school. Students should ask for permission before borrowing another student’s belongings and should take good care of them.

Chose the rules that are best for you and your students

These are some general rules that can help students succeed in your classroom. It may be difficult for students to remember this long list of rules, so to make it easier, you could hang posters around your room to remind them of your expectations. Alternatively, you could select only a few rules and make them as clear and specific as possible.

Next, with the help of students, decide what the consequences will be for breaking those rules. It’s also important to involve students in the process of deciding on the rules and the consequences of breaking them, as opposed to merely forcing these rules upon them. Students should know that these rules exist not to intimidate them but to make the classroom a safer and more enjoyable place for everyone.

Photo credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

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