So, this week, I’ve been asked to do some hard thinking about what rules I’m going to have in my future classroom. Now, since I’ll be teaching high school students, I don’t feel like I need to make my rules as detailed and as foolproof as I would need to for elementary school students. My students will be older, more mature (though not wholly so), so I believe that I can, at least, make a few assumptions about how much they know about good behavior. Therefore, without further ado, here are my rules as addressed towards my students. They are not in any particular order at this point since I’m still feeling my way about 🙂
My general rules:
- Swear/curse/racially sensitive/generally offensive words are only acceptable when discussing the use of such words in literature. I, as the teacher, will let the class know before hand when such words will be discussed during class. Other than in those instances, offensive language is prohibited. If you have any questions as to whether or not a word is offensive, please speak to me in private. If the question is during class, please indicate that your question is of a sensitive nature, and I’ll see what I can do. Other than that, offensive language of any nature and directed at any person is not allowed. [NOTE TO INSTRUCTOR FROM TEACH-NOW: Because this rule has some exceptions, I have included this in the general rules. I don’t want to be inconsistent, as the Teach-NOW book indicated, so that’s why I put this rule here 🙂 ]
- Homework will be deposited and retrieved from the two appropriately labeled bins near the front of the classroom. Each bin contains a folder for each individual student, so that neither you, my students, nor I have to hunt for your work. Each morning that I assign homework or classwork, it is to be turned in to the “To Be Graded” bin and put into your folder. After I’ve graded your assignments, I will deposit them into the “Already Graded” bin for you to retrieve. Hopefully, I will have your assignments graded at roughly the same speed as you turn them in, so each morning, you will first turn in your homework and then pick up your graded papers from the other bin. The bins are duly separated by some distance to minimize the early morning crowding which is sure to happen 🙂
- To minimize class disruptions, you will use hand signals to indicate why you need to leave the room. For the bathroom, you need only raise one finger (the index finger and no other). For your locker, raise your index finger and middle ringer (give me the peace sign). Finally, for the nurse or any other sort of emergency, raise your index finger, middle finger and ring finger together and just head for the door. Please know, though, that I will send someone after you to make sure that you are ok, should you do this. This last signal is not to be taken lightly. Please note, though, that for the bathroom and locker, you must wait for my acknowledgment (a nod of my head or other similar gesture in your direction) before you leave. You are to take with you one of the two laminated hall passes hanging by the door.
- Conduct during discussions/ class time: Participation in class discussions and interactive lectures is expected of each student. Each student is to comment at least two times each class period in which an official class discussion or interactive lecture is enacted. Such comments are to be relevant and thoughtful. Further, if the discussion turns into a lively debate, students are not to attack each other or each other’s respective beliefs.
- Conduct during drills: Students are to obey the student handbook in accordance with all rules about all drills.
- No derogatory language of any sort (see above rule about swear words for exceptions).
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- I have zero tolerance for bullying.
Now, of course the question that follows is how am I going to teach and reinforce these rules? Well, as the Teach NOW book by McLeod told us this week, I need to start from the very beginning of the school year and teach the procedures and rules along with teaching actual class content. It’s so much easier to have everything spelled out for you in the beginning than to have to stumble your way through a school year. Therefore, I plan on giving my students a syllabus WITH a schedule for the whole semester. A new syllabus will be handed out every half semester. By doing so, this allows for easier changes to the schedule and makes for less paperwork that the students have to lug around. I’m giving them such a detailed syllabus because I loved knowing exactly when everything was due when I was in college. Since I believe that knowledge is power, I can only believe that I am empowering my students by keeping them completely informed as to what the general schedule is for the semester. That syllabus will also, of course, contain all the rules and procedures by which I desire my students to abide. Though we will go over the syllabus in detail during the first day of class, I will also have creative posters on display to remind students of what is expected. As far as really teaching them, though, I think that making a video would be really fun. I’d love to combine a little rudimentary animation along with some acting contributed by my other teacher friends to create a funny yet helpful and completely valid video for my students to enjoy. I wouldn’t even show the video in class. Since I’ve taken such a shining to the “flipped classroom” model, I’m thinking about, for the first day of school, first doing a quick overview of the syllabus and what I want to accomplish during the year and then, for homework, assigning the video. Not only would it make the quiz over the video the next day even easier to pass (since the video would be so memorable), but hopefully, my message will stick a little more since it will be presented so cleverly.
Of course, not everything can be syllabi and videos. When it comes down to it, I’ll have to be modeling the desired behavior as well as strictly yet gently enforcing it throughout the year. Since my rules are few and cover mostly the basics, I think that the only ones that might be a problem are behavioral in nature. How do I police for bullying? How do I deal with students who just don’t care? Please, let me be honest: I’ve never had a real class before all to myself. I’ve worked with younger kids mostly, and I know how much of a handful they can be. I only have vague memories of high school, and that’s my desired age range. Honestly, I think some of my most important rules will be developed when I do my practicum. I realize that these rules are, at the moment, insufficient. There aren’t that many, they don’t cover a lot, and they’re rather idealistic. These rules are probably better geared towards college kids than towards high schoolers for all I know, but I don’t want to just give up an idea until I’ve tested it.
So, I guess, for the moment, there you have it! Those are my basics, stripped to the bone. They’re the most important aspects of my classroom that I can think of right now, and I know they’ll be built upon in the future.
Oh, uh, here:
Have an awesome poster that I, too, need to get my hands on.