Classroom rules are important for all ages – even middle school and high school students. Start your school year or even your lessons with a discussion of the ground rules and reinforce them constantly to ensure they become norms of the classroom.
By setting the ground rules at the start, you’ll be setting the tone for the rest of your time with your students.
How to Write Class Rules
Two effective teaching strategies to remember when setting rules for middle school and high school students are:
- Make rules that say what to do rather than what not to do.
- Start every rule with an action word (verb).
Read Also: 13 Effective Classroom Management Theories
Best Classroom Rules for Middle School
1 – 5:
- Respect other people’s boundaries (aka Keep your hands to yourself).
- Swearing is unacceptable.
- Enter the classroom ready to learn.
- Use an inside voice (aka No yelling!)
- Ask for permission before using the restroom.
6 – 10:
- Raise your hand if you would like to speak.
- Wait for others to finish speaking before you speak (aka No interrupting).
- Listen actively by making eye contact and asking relevant questions of the speaker.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Respect your classroom. Clean and tidy classrooms make your learning experience better (aka No Vandalism!)
11 – 15:
- See if you can help yourself before asking someone else.
- Care for your own equipment.
- Ask for permission to use others’ equipment.
- Theft is unacceptable (aka Do not steal!)
- Use a respectful tone and manners at all times (aka Don’t be Snarky)
16 – 20:
- Play by the rules. If you don’t, you’re only cheating yourself (aka Don’t cheat).
- Respect your body. You’ll need it for many decades to come.
- Know when to speak. You have a valued contribution to make to the class.
- Know when not to speak. Others have a valued contribution to make, too. Give them space to speak.
- Shower every day. No one wants to smell your B.O. when they’re trying to study.
21 – 26:
- Do homework daily. You’ll thank yourself in 10 years time!
- Think about people in more need than you. If someone appears lonely, sad or in need of help, it’s your responsibility to be by their side.
- Walk around the classroom … don’t run! When you walk, you’re less likely to damage things.
- Admit your mistakes. You’re not perfect and admitting when you’re wrong is a respectable thing to do.
- Stop and look to your teacher when the teacher asks. Your teacher’s here to help you!
- Check and edit your work before sending it to the teacher.
See Also: A List of Classroom Consequences
Best Classroom Rules for High School
27 – 31:
- Act as a role model for your peers and for younger students.
- Seek meaning in everything you do. Make sure you life a meaningful life.
- Apply what you learn in class to your life outside.
- Come to class because you want to. At this age, you don’t have to be here.
- Call out bad behavior. It’s your classroom and your job to set the tone you want.
32 – 36:
- Challenge one another with respect.
- Be ready to have your mind changed by someone else’s ideas.
- Be generous with praise and kindness for your friends and colleagues.
- Turn up on time. Being on time shows respect for your learning and your peers.
- Organize what you need for class the night before. You’re almost an adult … it’s time to get organized!
Related Article: 11 Simple Rules For How To Use Apostrophes
Inspiring and Uplifting Class Rules
37 – 41:
- Set yourself high expectations every day.
Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll make it to the stars.
- Take risks in order to achieve great things.
- Play together because play is the highest form of learning!
- Visualize what or who you want to be and strive for your ideal.
- Believe in yourself and your friends. You are the future of the world.
42 – 47:
- Make someone smile today.
- Be humble in success and proud in failure. Humble winners are willing to take constructive feedback. Proud losers hold their head high for having a go.
- Stand up for each other and stand against bullies.
- Set yourself a goal for today.
- Get involved. The world is changed by those who show up.
- Be your true self. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
How to Enforce the Rules
If students disregard or disrespect the rules, a teacher needs to take control and make sure they know the standards must be maintained.
Try the Assertive Discipline Theory approach, which argues that teachers should use a discipline hierarchy:
- The first time a student breaks the rules, they get a reprimand.
- The second time a student breaks the rules, they get a punishment.
- The third time a student breaks the rules, it’s escalated to parents and school management.
The trick is to follow-thought thoroughly on these steps so students know you’re serious.
Read Also: 23 Great School Ant-bullying Policies
An alternative (and perhaps better) way to go about writing class rules is to do it democratically.
Get your class together and ask them what rules they want to see in their classroom. I’ve found that young people are surprisingly conservative about the rules. They’ll offer some tough and powerful rules that they all must abide by.
By getting students to come up with the rules together, they are setting their own personal standards. It makes them more accountable not only to yourself as the teacher, but also themselves.
Classroom rules are necessary for learning to occur. When students misbehave, they are disrespecting their peers. Everyone in the class has the right to learn. If a student interrupts other students who are trying to learn, that needs to be stopped.
However, a teacher also needs to have positive regard for all students and see their potential … even the ones who play up. Work with misbehaving students to make sure they are having their needs met and they feel comfortable and safe in the classroom. As the humanist theory states, most misbehavior has a cause: as teachers, it’s our job to identify the cause of that misbehavior and try to address it so the student can succeed in class.
One thing a teacher needs to consider is their teaching: are you encouraging passive learning or active learning? An active, constructive classroom may significantly decrease instances of misbehavior.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]