Every Class needs Rules

Sachin Manjalekar

Rewards encourage and motivate students and sets benchmarks in the class.

Before you start writing the rules, the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for the students in the classroom. The number one rule about the rules is that it should be simple and number two rule is that it should not be more than half-dozen. The downfall of complex, long and many rules is that it will be hard to remember and understand.

Every classroom needs a rule and these rules serve as guidelines for students to follow during the entire year. Rules should define the behaviour and academic parameters for students and they must be made to know what is permissible and accepted.

Things to be considered before creating rules for the classroom:

1) Rules should be done in collaboration

Teachers should consider students when defining rules. According to Marzona, leading educational researchers “Effective management involves getting input, feedback and suggestions from the students”.

Marzona explains below on how students might participate in the rule-creation process to varying degrees.

  1. Teachers establish all the rules for themselves and their students
  2. Teachers and student collaborationi) Teachers create the rules and they seek active student feedback and suggestionii) Teachers and students work together for the creation
  3. Students develop all the rules for themselves.

2) Rules Category

If rules are not categorized properly and are mixed-up, then it creates a lot of confusion and will be really difficult to remember. The smart and better way is to create rules for each category.

Academic and behavioural expectations should be clearly defined. Academic rules relating to how students are obliged to conduct themselves during learning, class activities, homework and so on. Behavioural rules relating to how students respect other student and teacher, how students can contribute to groups for a better learning experience. Teachers could go on to create rules for different categories relating to emergency drills, recess, school assemblies, lab etc.,

3) Educate the rules

Once the rules are agreed upon, it is very essential for the teacher to educate the students on the rules. Authors Mark and Christine Boynton of the book-The Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems remind us that “Many teachers make the mistake of announcing rather than teaching parameters to their students. The truth is that students do not learn what’s announced; they learn what they are taught.” Each rule has to be taught in a similar fashion as a lesson. For every rule, an example has to be stated and if necessary it needs to be modelled.

4) Rewards and Consequences

Each rule should be observable, measurable and specific. A reward should be established for meeting the expectations and also consequences should be stated for not meeting it. The reward and consequences should be consistent and age-appropriate just like expectations.

Rewards for meetings the expectations:

Rewards encourage and motivate students and sets benchmarks in the class. The well-mannered and positive performers are recognised and appreciated for their continued efforts in meeting the expectation of the classroom.

  1. Praise students on a consistent basis whenever expectation is met
  2. Create a star chart with stickers, hand over stickers to students who meet expectations
  3. Distribute prizes to students who regularly meet expectation and collect good behaviour stickers
  4. Establish contact and with parents and administrators and report good things observed in the class.
  5. Provide additional privileges

Consequences for not meeting the expectations:

Consequences must be used as a teaching tool and must be delivered in a consistent and fair manner. Consequences are not just punishments delivered to students who are not meeting expectations but they exist as an effort to reinforce positive expectations.

The delivery of consequences depends on the circumstance and degree of violation of a rule. It should also depend on the category of the rule, how the consequence of academic violation will be treated and delivered to behaviour violation.

Below are a few suggestions on types and degree of consequences teachers can carry out:

  1. Recognise students during the teaching (Teacher gives the non-verbal signal to maintain silence on the first offence and on the second offence gives a tough gesture)
  2. If the violation persists the teacher delivers a verbal reminder and if reaches the intolerable level it could lead to a consequence of being expelled out of the class
  3. Loss of privilege of students should also be considered if offences are repeated
  4. Reporting to the administrator
  5. Contacting Parents
  6. Seek out a meeting with parents/administrators/counsellors

5) Post the rules

Once the rules are agreed and created. The next thing that needs to be looked upon is drawing out a poster or designing a hand-out which will keep everyone reminded of the expectations set for the year.

  • Passionate students can come up with posters with illustrations stating each rule and can be glued where everybody can see.
  • Teachers can design a handout which can be provided to each student to be pasted on their notebooks.
  • Some expectations which are universal to all age-groups can be converted into wooden-frames and hung to walls.
  • These expectations can also go into the school website to reach out to potential parents and also parents who have enrolled their students.


  1. https://www.teachhub.com/classroom-management-developing-clear-rules-expectations
  2. http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Educators-Guide-to-Preventing-and-Solving-Discipline-Problems.aspx

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