Updated Classroom Rules – September 2017

These Classroom Rules have been used since 2004, but there are far less of them now than before. This is the current version. These six rules can be said to actively and strongly support non-targeted comprehensible input based instruction and in particular the One Word Image process and the Invisibles story creation process. Classroom management is easier with non-targeted instruction because the kids are more involved:

1. Listen with the intent to understand.
2. One person speaks and the others listen.
3. Support the flow of conversation.
4. Do your 50%.
5. Actors and artists – synchronize your actions with my words.
6. Nothing on desks unless told otherwise.

Suggested use: It is the first few weeks that counts here. Each and every single time that you sense a disturbance while you are speaking, some kid with a head down or two kids talking or some kid blurting, STOP TEACHING. This is called knowing, recognizing when your boundaries are being crossed. Most teachers don’t know this, can’t recognize it, and the result is, well, we all know what the result is. So we just have to learn to STOP TEACHING and then what we do is slowly walk over to the rules poster, ceremoniously and with a genuine smile (that’s the key and the hardest part) put your hand on the rule, looking in the general direction of the offender but not directly at her. In the first few weeks it is almost always Rule #2. Then ceremoniously walk back to where you were teaching and continue where you left off when you were interrupted. (The kids don’t know it’s rude because no one ever calls them on it and the result is a broken education system.) The smile is the key. Now there is a level B to this and Tina is best at explaining it. It uses Fred Jones’ techniques and ideas and it stops rude behavior in its tracks. Tina is the one to model the Queen Elizabeth stare and all those great moves. I’ll leave that topic for another article.

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16 thoughts on “Updated Classroom Rules – September 2017”

  1. I realized this summer that it is not something that really “computes” in kids minds. It’s kind of a non-rule. Many if not most of the kids we teach – yours possibly excepted there in India – are only used to supporting the flow of information between them and their screens and their friends. (I see this as a result of the data flood that most teachers are forced to deliver in their other classes.) Actually the group we worked with in Little Rock, I think it was Gerry Waas, suggested that there was only one “real” rule up there – #2 – and I suggested keeping #5, but the rest kind of get ignored by the kids. But having only two rules would upset admins who LIKE rules, so I kept it at five now for the newest incarnation of those fifteen year old rules that have changed so much over the years.

  2. Hmmm. Ok. I’ve explained what it means, several times – what it looks like, sounds like, feels like. Most of them get it. I’ve stopped class and done a class check-in to see if they are supporting the flow of language. There are still a few that don’t, so now I’m doing the stop and smile and they’re understanding what it looks like.

    I actually think it’s a worthy one because we’re teaching kids in this digital age what it means to be engaged in conversation. Like you said, for many of them, they don’t know how to do this. However, I could see how this might be too lofty a goal for some situations which could easily cause teacher burnout.

    Interesting age we live in, that’s for sure.

      1. I think it’s good to have as an option. If teachers have students that are so disconnected that including #3 would ruin the class because they could never proceed, I think it should go. But for my students, it’s a good lesson in what it takes to be engaged in a conversation.

  3. Thank you all for reiterating how important it is to return to the rules in the beginning over and over and over again… I have followed your “prescription” thinking that I had nothing to lose as I have never been able to get them to stop talking, blurting, (I teach public school 6 to 8th grade/30 kids per class – they know each other well…). And I have been sprinting over to the rules, with a ridiculous smile on my face, eye brows raised…and it has gotten their attention more than anything! I even tell them that I am so glad I’m wearing my fit bit so that I can get “credit” for all the extra “pasos” I’m collecting the constant rule reminder, but that my expectation is that my exercise opportunities not continue at this pace. The kids are seeing the humor in it, but are starting to correct each other and are buying into the rule number 2. I even have one heavy blurter/chatter who has made a sign that says simply “Rule #2” and he quiets down and holds it up each time I sprint over there and do the Vana White gesture at the rule number 2. I have been amazed at how it is so much easier, doesn’t ruin my voice, and actually quiets them down (for a few seconds lol). This is my first time doing CI, and each day that we have a run of Spanish, the kids start seeing that this is different, and I they start buying in little by little and wanting the talkers to stop so that we can “do our thing”. This is the best start of year I have ever had. Have been teaching 13 years. I love this method and look forward to fleshing it out. We are still basically on card talk and jobs sign up. I used a google form to collect job applications. That has worked pretty well.

  4. OK so these were the rules a few years ago, the old list:

    1. Listen with the intent to understand.
    2. One person speaks and the others listen.
    3. Suggest cute answers.
    4. Support the flow of language.
    5. If the teacher is not clear, tell him/her.
    6. Sit up…Squared shoulders….Clear eyes.
    7. Do your 50%.
    8. Actors – synchronize your actions with my words.
    9. Nothing on desks unless told otherwise.

    And these are the rules now, the new list:

    1. Listen with the intent to understand.
    2. One person speaks and the others listen.
    3. Support the flow of conversation. (credit: Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg)
    4. Do your 50%.
    5. Actors and artists – synchronize your actions with my words.
    6. Nothing on desks unless told otherwise.

    Thus the removal of #3, #5 and #6 in the old list of 9 were good choices for removal because in some way they each put stress on kids, esp. when 65% of the grade is the Interpersonal Skills grade. #5 in the old list, from John Piazza, is a good rule but, in my estimation, asks kids to do something that we have not taught them how to do in schools – self-advocate. So I drop that one a bit reluctantly but #3 and #6 in the old list I do gladly as relics of the old way. I, for one, am so glad to see that ridiculous fist pounding thing for what it was – ineffective for most kids. It and old #3 and #6 didn’t work, and it took me years and years to understand that.

  5. I teach at a continuation school. Kids are regularly unruly and really don’t listen very well. I haven’t really had a class that could handle actors yet so I haven’t used rule 5. I have rules 1, 2, 3, and 6 and I think they’re great.

  6. I can’t use rule #7 at my school. The principal had me change it to “show effort and perseverance”, didn’t use it at all. So this year it’ll be gone completely. 🙁

    1. Laura said:

      …the principal had me change [the rule]….

      Hold on here. He didn’t “suggest” but “had you” do it? Did he say why?

      Those rules are the product of 15 years of struggle and there are well over 100 rules that didn’t make the “cut” from year to the next so that I can say from my own point of view that this guy (I’m assuming it is a white male) is tweaking what I worked on with great intensity for 15 years. I would like to meet this guy. My right fist would like to meet this guy.

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