As a teacher, you are responsible for creating a stimulating learning environment for your students. While building a positive and open relationship with students is extremely important, putting together some rules that will help you maintain order, promote fairness, and encourage accountability in class is equally necessary.
With classroom rules in place, students are aware of what’s expected of them and, therefore, are more inclined to display behaviors that teachers appreciate in a classroom environment. In this write-up, we are going to talk more about classroom rules and share some common ones that you could apply to any high school classroom.
Why is it important to have classroom rules?
Without rules, students have no clear guidelines for what is acceptable in the classroom and what is not. They wouldn’t know how they are expected to behave or what responsibilities they share as members of the class. Letting students know the rules right at the beginning of the school year ensures everyone is on the same page regarding student behaviors, expectations, and consequences for breaking or disobeying set rules.
Doing so creates a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students. Classroom rules help curb disruptive behaviors and create a space where students feel physically and mentally safe, encouraging them to learn instead of having their minds worry about something else. Rules also nudge students to be more responsible towards their studies and everyone around them, which in turn makes teaching and learning more effective.
Relevance of classroom rules in a high school setting
High school is a place where students are prepared for life and following rules is a part of it. Many think classroom rules are just meant for elementary and middle school students. But that’s not true. High schoolers, too, can benefit from having some rules and structure in place. High school students are at a stage when they go through complex physical changes and are heading toward a more independent life.
It is easier for them to lose focus and get distracted from their studies. Plus, managing a classroom full of high schoolers can be quite a task if no rules exist. So, it is wise to make a list of the rules you would like your students to follow and introduce them at the start of every semester. You could also involve your students and ask them for suggestions. Once finalized, have them prepare a poster displaying all classroom rules and hang it on a wall where students can see it clearly.
Classroom rules to follow in high school
1. Arrive on time and settle yourself before the class begins.
Remind your students that they must arrive at class on time and be seated at their desks with everything ready to begin the day’s learning.
2. Come to the class with everything you need to support learning.
Students must bring in all supplies needed before the commencement of the class. Tell them they will not be allowed to visit their locker during the class if they forget to get something.
3. Listen to your teacher and follow the given directions.
All students should pay attention to what their teacher is saying. They must listen clearly so they can follow directions promptly and correctly. Explain to your students how repeating instructions for inattentive students takes up significant instruction time.
4. Be respectful and polite when talking to your teacher and peers.
Students should be polite and respectful when interacting with others. Emphasize the point that you will not tolerate bullying in class and the use of rude words, manners, and gestures is strictly prohibited. If possible, discuss a few ethics scenarios so your students know what’s the right thing to do.
5. Ensure everyone’s safety by keeping your hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
This is one of the most important rules for any classroom. It prevents several issues, such as throwing objects, fighting, and bullying. Having this rule on your list will ensure your students know you want to create a safe environment and will not allow any activity that will compromise student safety.
6. Pick up after yourself to keep your classroom neat and tidy.
Every student is responsible for picking up after themselves to maintain cleanliness in their learning environment. Reiterate the fact that custodians are there to care for the school and its property, and not to clean up after students.
7. Do not use electronic devices like smartphones and tablets in the classroom.
Electronic devices must be switched off during class. Students can use them only during break time or after school hours if required. Let them know that if you find any student breaking this rule, you will confiscate their device until the class ends.
8. Raise your hand if you have something to say.
Students should refrain from speaking out of turn or interrupting when others are talking. Let the person finish before they share your opinion. Also, students must raise their hands and talk only when the teacher permits.
9. Start working on your in-class assignments immediately.
When a teacher gives an in-class assignment, students are expected to get started with it at the very moment. They should refrain from talking to their peers or doing something else when a task is given in class.
10. Use breaks and lunchtime for eating and drinking.
Inform your students that food and drinks are not permitted in the class. They can wait for lunchtime or use breaks to refuel their bodies between classes. However, they can bring a bottle of plain water to quench their thirst during class time.
11. Do not copy someone else’s work. Absolutely no cheating!
Pay particular emphasis on this rule to let your students know you have zero tolerance for cheating. If any student is found copying content from others or using unfair means during assessments, they will be awarded a zero.
12. Wait for class dismissal before packing up to leave.
Some students have the habit of packing up before it’s time for class dispersal. This creates an unnecessary disruption in class. To help curb this issue, make sure your students know they can only pack up when the teacher has announced dispersal.
13. Submit your assignments on time.
This rule encourages students to turn in their assignments before the deadline. You can share your policy for late submissions so students know the consequences of not submitting their work on time.
14. Take care of your school’s property.
Remind students to consider school property their own. They should be responsible for keeping it safe and intact. Any student found messing up with the school’s property may face the consequences at the teacher’s or school management’s discretion.
15. Actively participate in class activities and discussions.
Being present in class is not the only requirement to promote effective learning. Active participation is equally important. This rule encourages students to willingly participate in class activities and benefit from them. Reassure them that they can always ask for help if they find something difficult.
Setting classroom rules that work
Every classroom setting and the students comprising it are different. While we have suggested some basic rules which you can enforce in your high school classroom, you may need additional rules based on your classroom situation. If you’re trying to come up with new guidelines that can help you execute a school day smoothly without major disruptions, here are a few things you must remember:
- Frame simple and reasonable rules.
- Use easy-to-understand language.
- Keep them short and to the point.
- Create rules that apply to different situations and are suitable for all students.
- Try using a positive tone to encourage students to adhere.
- Come up with sensible consequences in case any student fails to follow a rule.
Classroom rules can make or break a classroom environment. As a high school educator, always remember that you’re interacting with a bunch of young adults who have a voice and are capable of raising their opinions. So try and use effective classroom management strategies that work.
The rules you set for your classroom must not be too stringent. They must be reasonable for their age group so that each one of your students agrees with them. Be reasonable, but not lenient. Coming forward as a teacher who takes rules seriously will not only help in maintaining order in the classroom but will also turn your students into individuals who have a sense of civil behavior and responsibility towards the community.
Having a 10+ years of experience in teaching little budding learners, I am now working as a soft skills and IELTS trainers. Having spent my share of time with high schoolers, I understand their fears about the future. At the same time, my experience has helped me foster plenty of strategies that can make their 4 years of high school blissful. Furthermore, I have worked intensely on helping these young adults bloom into successful adults by training them for their dream colleges. Through my blogs, I intend to help parents, educators and students in making these years joyful and prosperous.