Teaching Classroom Rules and Expectations

teaching classroom rules and expectations

Back to school season is officially upon us.  I think one of the hardest things about teaching is completely starting over each year.  You have to teach expectations and rules, create a community with a new group, and begin teaching grade level content.  It's so important during that first month to explicitly teach the skills necessary to meet those expectations to be successful in the classroom, as well as teach the skills to get along with a new set of friends in a new environment.  In this post, I have narrowed down five topics that you can cover in an engaging way that also encompasses your classroom rules and expectations.  

Finding the time to fit these vital topics into your day is always a struggle.  I know that sometimes admin doesn't allow you a lot of time to do so, because they're ready for you to quickly dive into the content.  But if your students do not have these skills and strategies in their tool belts, learning new content will be even more difficult.  I always fit my SEL instruction into mini lessons during morning meeting.  I do not do the traditional morning meeting; I have kind of made it my own to fit my teaching style and student needs.  I use the time to not only build relationships with my students, I build in mini lessons that incorporate an SEL topic that we need to focus on.  It is also just a great way to have a fresh start to your day, no matter how things went the day before.  

Listening and Following Directions

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Listening and following directions is the first topic we dive into.  If they aren't listening to you and each other, it's going to be difficult to teach those rules and expectations.  The story, The Worst Day of my Life Ever by Julia Cook, is a good story to introduce why it's important to listen.  You get to see the consequences of not listening and how it can affect your day, as well as reward of listening to others and the impact it can have.


Teaching classroom rules and expectations

We talk about strategies that we can use to help us listen, such a how to sit on the carpet.  You can make this whole body listening anchor chart with your students.  These are strategies that your students can use to get their bodies ready to listen.  I know what this does not work for all students, so be mindful of that and their needs when teaching this.  Make accommodations as needed.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

One fun game you can play with your students is called Listen, Draw, Check.  It's similar to Battleship, and one that my students always loved.  You can read more about it HERE.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

I also have a song that we sing to get our minds ready to listen.  Having this cue in place will help your students be ready when it's time to listen without you having to say anything. 

If you want to read about more LISTENING STRATEGIES, you can read more in this BLOGPOST.

Kindness

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Kindness might be one of the most important topics we teach all year to our students.  Building a culture of kindness in your room can have a huge impact on your classroom environment.  Teaching students compassion and empathy will help lead to stronger relationships between the students, as well as between the teacher and students.  With these tightly knit relationships comes trust and leads students to feel comfortable and loved in your classroom, which in turn fosters a culture of learning.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Be Kind by Pat Ziellow Miller is a sweet story to use to spark conversations about how to treat others.  A simple way to practice showing kindness is to write compliment notes to one another.  

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Acts of Kindness BINGO is a fun little game you can quickly play with your class.  This game just gets them to thinking about some different acts of kindness they can incorporate into their day.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Have your students set goals for how they are going to apply what they learned.  They can come up with four ways they will show kindness around the school that day.

You can read about more ways to teach KINDNESS in the classroom HERE.

Classroom and School Rules

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Teaching your classroom rules is a necessity.  Students must be explicitly instructed on what they are, why they are important, and how to follow those rules.  But it isn't always the most exciting thing to cover, whether you are teaching them at the beginning of the year, or are revisiting them at the beginning of the semester.  Teaching your classroom rules doesn't have to be boring; I will show you how to make it engaging and fun!  Using songs, a game, a read aloud, and more, you can make learning classroom rules fun and exciting!

In my classroom, we always created a Classroom Promise together.  I have created an anchor chart that already has the statements for the promise, or you can create your own on a blank anchor chart.  I printed these little handprints on different colors of paper and you can let students cut them out.  They can then write their name on the handprint to attach to the anchor chart to symbolize their promise to the class.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

You can play this fun classroom rules game with your class.  You divide the students into two teams to play Classroom Rules Charades!  The team draws a card and one member from the team has to act out the rule or situation.  The team then has to decide on which rule that it would fall under.  Display them on the board with the rule for a visual reminder for students.  If the team gets both correct, they get a point.  The team with the most points wins.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

When you go over the classroom or school rules with your students, have them write them down, too.  It would also be helpful for them to attach an illustration to each rule.

You can have read about more ways to teach your CLASSROOM RULES in this BLOGPOST.

Making Good Choices

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Often times, students can be impulsive and make choices without stopping to think.  We want to provide students with the strategies they need to stop, think, and make a good choice.  By teaching them these skills, students will begin to develop self control and self discipline.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Any of the books from the What Should Danny Do? series by Ganit and Adir Levy are perfect for practicing making choices. The School Day book has the most applicable scenarios for the school day, so I would use this one first if you have it.  If not, the others will work, too.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

The THIS OR THAT game gets students up and moving during your lesson.  Divide your carpet or an open area in your room to have two sides.  Hang the THIS or THAT signs up on each side so students can see which side to stand on.  Read one of the questions and have students move to the side that they believe is the right choice.  It can be either side, so they will be moving and making choices!

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

The important thing is that you provide your students with lots of practice making choices.  Have discussions about those choices and if they are the right or wrong choice in that situation.  You might do so during independent work time by discussing how different choices could extend that time or not help us focus.  During centers, you can provide them with choice in choosing the best activity to fit their current needs.

It's also important to point out that we don't always make the best choice, and that's okay.  We all make mistakes and can move forward and learn from those mistakes.

You can read more about how to teach MAKING GOOD CHOICES HERE.

Empathy


Teaching classroom rules and expectations

We want to create an environment in our classroom that encourages and teaches empathy.  Children tend to be egocentric and need to be explicitly taught to recognize others' feelings and how to respond to those feelings.  This will build classroom community and foster an environment of kindness in your elementary classroom.

Empathy is Your Super Power by Cori Bussolari provides students with different scenarios in which they can apply empathy. You can then model using empathy in different situations throughout your day.  When you see students modeling empathy, be sure to point it out to the class.  The more you do this, the more these behaviors will be embedded into your classroom community.  If you see a situation in which a student could have used empathy, address that with that student.  Let them have a do over so that they can build that into their muscle memory!

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

We want to teach students what empathy is, the understanding of the feelings and experiences of another.  I like to tell them that it's like putting yourself in someone else's shoes.  You can make this anchor chart together, and teach students four questions to ask themselves when they are in a situation in which they can apply sympathy.  

1.  What emotions is that friend feeling?
2. Why do they feel this way?
3. How would I feel if I were in that situation?
4. What can I say or do to help?


Teaching classroom rules and expectations

Students can make these empathy glasses to help them see a situation through someone else's eyes.  You can then have them discuss reasons why someone might have these feelings from the cards you will show them with different feelings and emotions.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations

The In Your Shoes Empathy Game provides students with different classroom scenarios.  They have to describe how they would show empathy in the situation to move forward.  This could be played in teams as a class or in small groups.

You can ready more about EMPATHY in this POST.

I hope you have a great year!  Teaching is really hard, and it takes lots of practice and experience to really get comfortable and confident with teaching your expectations and rules.  Last year, I thought I was going to have a meltdown at the beginning of the year!  It was really tough but it got better the more I stuck with my expectations.  Be patient, calm, and consistent, and it will all come together!

You can save BIG on the Social Emotional Mini Lessons Bundle by clicking below.

Teaching classroom rules and expectations















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