I think rules should be kept to a minimum. Rules should also be achievable and assessable on our end as the teacher.
Here are mine:
1.Take care of yourself.
2.Take care of others.
3.Take care of this place.
Of course, first we read this and discuss good behaviors that make our class run smoothly and give us opportunity to have more fun, and bad choices that just might take the fun out of it. Once we have brain-stormed those, we come to a consensus that really, all those examples fall under those 3 rules.
I refer back to them from time to time when students make bad choices. "Oh, little Thomas, you're not taking care of yourself! Get back to work!" "Oh, little Thomas, pushing is not taking care of others!" "No, little Thomas, kicking that chair is not taking care of this place."
("Little Thomas" comes from here. I love Tim Hawkins. Hilarious.)
I try to phrase them in a positive way as much as possible. Sometimes it's just not possible, or your brain is too tired. We do the best we can.
And I don't always give them a consequence up front. Sometimes simple redirection is enough. "Little Thomas, you chose to mess around (yes, I use the phrase mess around- we talk about what it means as we are "making the rules" together). Bummer. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do about that, but I'm going to go think about it. Don't worry about it. I'll get back to you. You just keep working on your spelling." In the meantime, sometimes that's enough and little Thomas is corrected. But of course, that doesn't work with everyone.
But so far, so good. And with the Little Thomas' that need more, I'm taking it a day at a time. Trying to build those relationships and build up their self-concept.
So do I use rules, or principles? I'm not sure. Does it matter?
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