Older students do not need to be taught classroom behaviour rules. They already learn them in primary and middle school. However, what older students do need to learn is classroom learning rules. Classroom learning rules are essentially rules which optimize learning within a classroom.
You can hand these rules out to your students in the beginning of the year so that they enter class with full knowledge of the rules. You can even make a poster of these rules and put them up around the class so that students don’t have an excuse for not being aware of the rules.
1. Questions Are Important – This rule is first and foremost because questions are integral to the process of learning. Learning never has and never will be a one way process. It’s a process of give and take. The teacher gives, the student takes, and the student gives back in the form of questions. The teacher takes those questions and gives back in the form of answers. Learning is essentially an endless loop of feedback. Tell your class that questions are mandatory because unless a concept has been question and picked apart, it is not going to become a part of a student’s memory. The first few times you might not get many questions and you might have to threaten to take away privileges but once students start asking questions, there is no question (pardon the pun) of them stopping.
2. Assignments & Projects Must be Turned on Time – This rule is less for you and more so for students because it helps build discipline. Tell your students that you absolutely refuse to accept projects after its deadline has passed. At first your students will test the rule to gauge how much you will yield. But when you refuse to accept them or give them a failing grade/mark, your students will begin falling into line automatically.
3. Actions Have Consequences – This rule is more so that students know that their actions carry weight and have consequences. For instance, if they break rules, they are going to be punished, if they decide not to turn in home work or assignments, their grades are going to suffer, if they are rude to other students and teachers, they will be reprimanded, if they decide to bunk classes, they will be pulled up etc. The idea is for them to learn that no action is without consequences and that some consequences can be damaging.
4. Pay Attention To All Learning Activities – Tell your students that one of the few things that you absolutely expect from them is complete attention from when you are teaching. When you are not teaching, they are welcome to behave as they like, but when you are teaching, let them know you will not tolerate daydreaming, texting, talking, doing other work, when you are teaching in class.
5. Learn To Work Independently – Promote independent work as much as you can, because when children work in groups, some children end up doing all the work and the other group members none. You can still have group activities, it is just that you let to need students know that you expect them to make equal contributions when within a group.
6. No Devices During Learning/Teaching Hours – Most students will love you if you allow them to keep their electronic devices with them in class. However, let your students know that you will allow them to keep their devices on one condition, that they do not use them while you are teaching and that their attention should not wander to their devices during the lesson. If you do find them using their devices when teaching, confiscate them and ask them to get a written permission slip from their parents in order for you to give the device back to them!
7. Classroom Participation is Appreciated & Encouraged – Learning happens better when students engage with the lesson and participate. Let one of your rules be compulsory classroom participation, maybe let some marks/grades too hinge on classroom participation, so that your students have no choice but to participate. What most students need is just a little push in order to feel confident enough to participate.
You can have classroom rules other than these too. The only thing you need to remember is that do not make too many rules. You and your students will soon find yourselves being bogged down by them.
Do you have classroom learning rules for your classrooms? If so, please do share them with us in the comments section below!