3.Working in groups to agree classroom rules

In this section, you will use pupils’ ideas about good principles of behaviour to help them develop their own classroom rules.

Helping pupils make a set of rules for the classroom is one way to strengthen participation and responsibility, especially if they write the rules themselves. Establishing their own rules will help them understand what is expected.

There are two sets of rules to think about. The first are social rules. These cover the ways people interact with each other and behave towards each other.

The second are study rules. These cover how pupils behave during lesson time and what they can do to help everyone study and learn. By organising pupils to work in groups, you will allow them to share ideas and gain respect for each other more.

It is important that the rules apply to the teacher as well as the pupils. You need to be a good example for your pupils. If you respect them in the classroom, they will learn to respect you.

Case Study 3: Developing rules for behaviour

Ms Saleji asked her Grade 3 class to think about the principles of behaviour they had identified earlier and how these might help them develop their own classroom rules.

She asked pupils to think about their different responsibilities. What things could they do to help each other fulfil those responsibilities?

They first talked together in pairs, and then as a class. Finally, in small groups, she asked them to write sentences using: ‘We should …’

She went around each group and asked them to read one sentence and explain why they had written it. For example: ‘We should be quiet in class because it helps us listen better’.

If pupils suggested negatives, for example ‘Don’t talk in class’, together they changed it to something positive: ‘We should try to listen carefully to each other’.

She was very pleased with their responses, and collected their sentences in. The next day, they reviewed them all again and chose eight. Ms Saleji then wrote these on the chalkboard and the pupils copied them into their books for reference.

Key Activity: Developing classroom rules

  • Discuss with your class why we need class rules for behaviour and for study. Discuss why they – and not you – will write the rules.
  • Let the pupils, in groups, discuss their suggestions for social rules and study rules. Ask them to write five rules for each, using positive sentences.
  • Collect each group’s suggestions on social rules and write them on the board. Ask them to explain to the class why they are important.
  • Organise a vote: ask each pupil to choose six to eight rules from the board. Too many is unnecessary if you have good rules. Read out each rule, and count the number of hands up for each rule. Write the numbers down and identify the most popular.
  • Do the same for study rules.
  • Organise the class to make a poster of the written rules. Display it by the door of the classroom to remind everyone as they come in.
  • Monitor how they work over a term and review the rules if necessary. How would you and they modify them?

2. Sharing responsibility for the classroom

Resource 1: The benefits of classroom principles