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I created The Thrivapy Blog to share my thoughts and ideas about living a learning lifestyle.

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Thank You,
Dr. Troy P. Roddy

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rules And Procedures

Generally speaking, there are two main components to a classroom management plan. One part includes the rules for your class. The other part is made up by the procedures. Similar to a sensible eating plan that calls for limited protein or carbohydrates and as much leafy green vegetables as you want, a sensible classroom management plan calls for limited rules and as many procedures as necessary. However, knowing the difference between a rule and a procedure is important, especially if you hope your students follow along.

The image above attempts top help with this differentiation.

Rules establish boundaries. They are non-negotiable. Rules are universal in the sense that when subjected to contextual differences, they remain as relevant as in any other situation. A good example of a classroom rule might be, "At all times, we are respectful of one another." Breaking rules damages relationships which strikes at the core of an effective learning environment. The relationship may be between student and teacher or student and student. Either way, once such a break happens, it needs to be repaired - usually by some sort of action to be taken on the part of the person who broke the rule and under the direction of the teacher.

The number of rules in your class should be limited. Fewer rules are easier to remember and easier to reinforce. I usually suggest no more than 3 to 5 rules - enough for a student to count on one hand.

Procedures are the salad in the classroom management "meal." You can have as much as you need to be full. Procedures establish clarity in the sense that they formalize the operations in a way that promotes efficiency. They also vary greatly based on the teacher and needs of the class. If you find that something is not working, procedures are more easily adjusted. With older students, establishing procedures can be a collective exercise with you leading a conversation about what works and what doesn't.

Violating procedure and breaking a rule should not prompt the same response. Procedural breaks might cause a brief slowing of efficiency or flow, but do not damage the essential relationships in the group. Reminders, both verbal and visual, help ensure that procedures are followed and why this is necessary. In addition, one of the benefits of students helping draft procedure is the increased chance for immediate understnading and "buy-in" - both of which greatly reduce the chances of procedural violations.

One last, and most important, suggestion: Make rule and procedural reviews a part of your yearly operational plan. Over time, rules and/or procedures that were once useful can become roadblocks.When evaluating rules and procedures, any item that seems to be getting in the way of establishing and/or nurturing a positive working relationship between teacher and student or studnet and student should be closely examined and either fixed or eliminated. In other words, if your rules and procedures are not enhancing the student experience, then why do they exist?

P.S. The same ideas about rules and procedures can work at home with your children, too.