At the beginning of this year I tried out a new way of discussing and defining my classroom Rules with my learners. It was by no means perfect, but it felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the top down heavy authoritative processes I had used before. The purpose of this post is just to define the basics of what I did and to open the concept up to other teachers so it can be further refined through collaborative discussion. Below is a brief description of how the process works.
Using collaborative discussion and negotiation to create a set of rules for the classroom that everyone believes are in their best interest to abide by.
Two different colour post it notes, whiteboard, board markers.
Ask students to think about what they feel are the DO’s & DONT’s of a successful learning space. Then hand out 3 post it notes of each colour. Define one colour for DO’s and another for DONT’s. Then ask the students to write their ideas down on the post it notes and place them on the class whiteboard with each colour taking up a separate side.
Now ask students to group the responses into themes with common characteristics. This should hopefully prove a very collaborative process and it’s good to allow learners to debate and negotiate throughout the process. You should emerge with a few broad themes that can be used as the basis of your classroom rules.
However there is one final step to be done, ask everyone to reflect on whats on the board and is their any major idea that we should have included that we left out ?? Also this is a nice time for the teacher to add any rules they think are important and to explain why to the class.
I ended off by taking pictures of the boards so I had a have a permanent record of our discussions and then we type up our classroom rules document for the year to be stuck on our wall.
Please feel free to add your experiences in the comments section if you can add to this discussion in any way. Especially if you give it a bash with your classes!