First, ask the kids what rules they know. Get them involved. Then…
- Choose one rule to explore.
- Explain the rule—be clear and detailed.
- Again, students can add their thoughts.
- Demo it, or have one kid demo it, then have 2 kids demo, then 3 or more, and finally the whole class.
- Re-explain and practice till it’s perfect.
- It may take a few sessions to reach that goal.
Also, discuss why the rule is important. No, it’s not to avoid punishment. The real reason is because it helps us to be respectful or to stay safe, or to learn something new and interesting.
So…what bad things might happen if we don’t follow the rule? Delve into the issues, so kids internalize the rule. That’s how it becomes embedded in their conscience—your only true hope for good behavior.
Also, think of everything that could go wrong. You have to address every possibility, and discuss the limits of what’s acceptable. No, they can’t do this or that.
It really helps to have a checklist so you don’t forget crucial points. You don’t want any loopholes or misunderstandings.
Even though I’ve taught rules for years, I still use my own school rules checklists and points for discussion.
I also created a script for what a teacher might say, starting the moment the kids walk into the classroom on the first day of school. Even when I don't use it verbatim, it makes me feel CALM and CONFIDENT knowing it’s all there. As they say, act the part till you become the part.
Teaching rules is a fascinating process, and it’s a must—and it’s ongoing, to some degree, every time you teach.