Robert Heinlein, American author, once said, “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.’ I feel a lot of secondary students will be able to relate to this quote and I would develop my classroom policies around it. In other words, students at the secondary level have already developed a sense of what is expected of them, yet they are still at an age where they want to defy authority; so, it is important to balance the rules in the classroom that meets everyone’s expectations. I think setting basic guidelines such as “be respectful’ will cover a lot of areas where students can use there common sense. For instance, keep your hands to yourself and use appropriate language would fall under this rule. I also think stewardship is important to teach students and explain how that falls under “respect.” I will also spend my time on procedures pertaining to the classroom and the work expected of them. I don’t think it is necessary to involve anyone in the rule-making process; students tend to make a list longer than the Bill of Rights and never take a second glance at them. I do think it is important to discuss the classroom policies together and ask for input on what they think it means and why they think it is important to follow those rules. It may also be beneficial to discuss what the consequences should be for breaking the rules. Most importantly, always follow through.
- Be respectful.
- Be prepared for class.
- Turn in work on time.
- Take responsibility for your own learning.
I really like the Scholastic.com website. It is easy to maneuver and it covers a plethora of topics, contrary to the belief that it is solely related to books. There is a great section on “general rules and conduct’ under the classroom management link. The website allows you to filter the information you view based on the grade level you select. You have the option to register as a member, but it is not necessary to access all the great information it provides.
I obviously wouldn’t rate the site on a scholarly level, but it is definitely a “go to’ tool for teachers while browsing the Internet; besides, there is plenty of training available through other professional avenues. I take the information from the site as a starting point of knowledge and research further if it interests me. I don’t always agree with what I read (anywhere), but I always find something useful to take into the classroom. For example, I don’t agree with the recommendation to include the students when I am making the rules (as stated above, I do, however, think it is important to discuss them), but I do appreciate the recommendation to select only a few rules and discussing the consequences up front. Also, they spend a little time on what a first-grade teacher would do and I wasn’t sure why they mentioned this since I am filtered for 9th to 12th graders, but as I read on I felt the advice would work grad for all grades; that is, not to be too lengthy…’fast, firm, and fair really does work!’ The last recommendation they give helps to remember that although you are an authority figure, it does not mean you have to rule with an iron fist, but rather, to provide “leadership and a strong example of how to behave.’
Wordle: I love that the two biggest words are “Think’ and “Students;’ the two most important aspects to a classroom.