Class Rules

January 6th, 2010

At the beginning of the year we created the rules for our classroom. According to Responsive Classroom, class rules should be entirely student generated. But in kindergarten when you ask a group of 5 year olds what the rules should be you get this list:

  1. Don’t hit
  2. Don’t push
  3. Don’t kick
  4. Don’t punch
  5. Don’t run
  6. Don’t yell
  7. Don’t slap
  8. Don’t bite
  9. Don’t throw things
  10. Don’t be mean
  11. Don’t talk
  12. No running
  13. No spitting
  14. No fighting
  15. No being mean
  16. No yelling
  17. No shouting
  18. No being loud
  19. No wrestling
  20. No stealing

And that’s the shortened version. When I let them start suggesting rules I usually get close to 50 or 60 “don’t's” and “no’s”. That’s a whole lot of things we aren’t allowed to do. And an insane list to remember.

So, I have to start tweaking the list to a more positive wording and narrowing it down. There is a long conversation which is mostly me saying things like “Hitting and kicking and punching and slapping and hurting other people is something we godn’t want to do. So can we make the rule be “Keep your hands and feet to yourself?” And I’ll be honest, in the end, the rules end up being the 5 rules that I use every year in kindergarten. (1. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. 2. Share. 3. Listen when someone else is speaking. 4. Walking feet. 5. Be respectful)

And every year in January we re-evaluate and re-write our class rules. Since we have to spend the first week in January re-learnign the whole routine anyway, might as well start fresh with new rules.

So today we sat and made the long list of ideas for rules. However, I told them none of the rules could start with the word “don’t” or “no”. I wanted all positive language. I wanted the rules to state what we could (and should) do, not what we couldn’t do.

I was seriously impressed with their list. If they suggested a “don’t” rule, the rest of the class immediately corrected them – YOU CAN’T SAY DON’T! – but after the shouting, they gave the student a chance to rephrase their idea.

The list included:

  1. Be best friends
  2. Be good
  3. Listen when people talk
  4. Be nice
  5. Be kind
  6. Be helpful
  7. Be respectful
  8. Tell the truth
  9. Walk
  10. Take care of the toys and books
  11. Only dig and build with sand or snow
  12. Share
  13. Have fun
  14. Learn
  15. Say please
  16. Watch where you are walking in line
  17. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough (this one made me laugh out loud. Earlier this year, I had over half my class hit with H1N1. I had them hand-santizing and going through tissues like good little germ0phobes. At least they were paying attention.)

We then talked about how some rules were pretty similar and they decided to have 6 rules total. The final list (with barely any influence from me):

1. Be safe

2. Be good

3. Be kind

4. Be respectful

5. Tell the truth

6. Have fun

Now, we’ll see if they stick to the new rules.

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