What is the purpose of rules? Without rules, we would be able to run red traffic lights. We would be able to come to work late with no consequences. Rules create structure, order, and discipline. At INSPIRE TEXAS, we prepare our teachers to implement rules for their students and themselves. These 10 rules for teachers keep boundaries in place and expectations met.
- Practice what you preach. As a teacher, you are in front of impressionable students for several hours a day. It is important to set an example for your students and model the behavior that you expect from them. If you set classroom rules for students to follow school dress code, not chew gum, and to keep cell phones turned off, don’t let your actions contradict your rules.
- Provide recognition. Do you have students who always excel in their homework? Do you also have a student who is always late? It may seem easier to address incorrect behavior, but positive attention is a great practice. If a student is doing great in school, let him or her know it. If you have a student who improves in his or her behavior, call the parents to inform them. These are the years that shape a child’s self-esteem, so create a healthy balance between disciplining and rewarding students.
- Be consistent. Don’t forget the reason you have classroom rules in place. There should be consequences for everyone if the rules are not followed. Consistency prevents students from feeling like there is favoritism in the classroom. A student should never feel like he or she is less important than another student.
- Remind students of your expectations on a regular basis. The first day of school is an ideal time to establish classroom expectations. However, this is not the only time it should be done. “I forgot” is not an excuse for students to break the rules. Come up with a frequency that you’re comfortable with and remind students of the expectations in a variety of ways.
- Establish classroom rules. Although we’re discussing rules for teachers to follow, that doesn't mean students are off the hook. You don’t want to overdo it with too many meaningless rules, so make sure rules are necessary and practical. Place the classroom rules where they can be read easily.
- Keep students challenged. Don’t be afraid to stimulate students’ minds and spark their creativity. Youths who are busy and challenged rarely have time for trouble.
- Bring your passions inside the classroom. It’s great to have a lesson plan, but bring some of your personality into the classroom. Students want to know that you’re an individual with other interests. For example, if you’re a Spanish teacher with a passion for cooking, incorporate your favorite dishes into the lesson plan.
- Have fun. This is a great lesson from INSPIRE TEXAS alumnus Ralph Zema, who views his classroom as a stage. Zema uses a prop microphone and other classroom activities to engage students. There are many ways to have fun in the classroom. For example, instead of reading out of the textbook for an upcoming test, prepare a Jeopardy® game.
- Be real. Children possess the ability to detect a lie from a mile away. The best way to create and maintain a positive teacher-student relationship is to be authentic and honest. This is your classroom, so be comfortable.
- Be the student. Although your role is as a teacher, you should never stop learning inside and outside the classroom. Enter the classroom with an open mind, and you may end up learning a valuable lesson from a student. Pay attention to how students receive your lessons and make modifications if needed.
Teachers have a huge responsibility as educators and mentors. We encourage you to be your best self each day. These 10 rules will assist you on your journey.