Do you have a classroom policy? A set of rules and expectations on classroom behaviour?
If you do, what do you do with it? Is it sent home in the form of a letter? Printed and stuck on the wall of your classroom? Available online?
Personally, I believe that the best place for them is at the front of your student planners. This is something my teachers did when I was at school, and it worked really well. There are three main reasons to include your classroom policy in your student planners:
- To give your students something to refer to.
- To keep parents informed of what is expected of their child.
- To give yourself another strategy for controlling behaviour.
1: To give your students something to refer to.
This is particularly useful for new students. Every school has slightly different rules and expectations when it comes to classroom behaviour and etiquette. Clearly defining how students should behave in the classroom at the beginning of your student planner means that all students have access to a resource which defines exactly how they are expected to conduct themselves in your school.
2: To keep parents informed of what is expected of their child.
Parental involvement is vital in education. Get parents on-side, and you’ve won half the battle. Well, maybe not half, but a significant portion.
It is important that parents know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. This way, if a parent feels it unfair that you have reprimanded their child for shouting out in class, you can direct them to your policy, which would clearly explain that this behaviour is not acceptable in your classroom.
This can also show you to be completely transparent about your expectations and standards. Parents appreciate being fully informed of what is expected of their child in class.
3: To give yourself another strategy for controlling behaviour.
A student answering back can be one of the most frustrating things to experience in class. We’ve all witnessed it; some of us may have even contributed to it back in the day. Sometimes, simply telling a student that they can’t answer back or shout out just isn’t enough.
However, if you have a class contract or policy to hand, you can explain to the student exactly which rule they are breaking, remind them that they are fully aware of the classroom rules, and even point out that they signed to agree to follow the rules (should you include a classroom contract in your planner). This also gives you more justification for any reprimands or punishment you consider appropriate.