Launching Your Teaching Career Part 3 - Rules and Procedures
Sep 9, 2009 Classroom Management 2868 Views
Are you feeling great about the excellent progress you have made as you prepare for that first, enchanting day with real students in your own classroom in your dream job? You may also feel tired - even exhausted. This is perfectly fine and acceptable and I recommend that you get used to it. Teaching is tiring: being responsible for the learning success of 15, 20, or 200 students is an ominous task but one that is also richly rewarding.
To have your classroom operating on A+ level, rules and procedures must be clearly explained and then adhered to. Rules include items of behavior like being on time or being considerate to classmates and the teacher. Procedures are every movement in the classroom and throughout the school. These are matters like gathering materials, transitioning from subject to subject, or moving through the hallways to music or lunch.
Begin by identifying what will make the perfect situation for discipline in your room. You want life under control but you do not need to be a tyrant. In fact you will find that if you have rule upon rule upon rule, it is more difficult to maintain a climate conducive to learning. Too many rules can bring confusion. Plus you often must add more rules to enforce the rules you already have. The biggest considerations are: students on time and with learning materials and being courteous to others. These just about encompass everything in a classroom. The remainder of a smooth running classroom is clearly delineated procedures: sharpening a pencil, getting a drink, asking a question, moving to a partner, gathering boxes of classroom materials, and so on.
While youngsters who are new to the school scene may need repetition of classroom rules (because some of them have never sat down and listened to anyone in their short lives), older students already know the expectations. A quick review should suffice. It is the procedures that often create havoc for a new teacher. Jot down every possible movement for your students (those previously listed plus late work and turning in home working, turning in money and permission papers, returning from recess set for learning, asking for instructions to be repeated, and heading out and returning from lunch). As the school year unfolds, you will encounter more procedures to clarify and must determine appropriate behavior for each. By keeping a list you will be better prepared for next year plus when new students arrive in your room, you will have a handy tool for sharing the procedures in your class.
With definite expectations for procedures there will be fewer disruptions in instruction; fewer disruptions in instruction mean more students are learning; more students learning create success for you and for them; success eliminates stress, frustration, and disruption. See how it all circles together. If you are unsure about a procedure (like using the restroom during class time) check with a colleague on how he handles this situation. You can also experiment to see what works best for you and your students, i.e. written instructions on the board or in a hand-out or pencil sharpening only before school instead of between subject changes.
As long as you are clear with your expectations to your students and you continually enforce and maintain your rules and procedures with absolute fairness, problems will evaporate and learning will radiate throughout your room. Kids really do like a teacher who is competent and on top of teaching. That is you with clear rules and procedures.
There are times that the best intentions for rules and procedures fail: vomit, blood, irate parents, or medical crises are examples. For these times refer to your policy book for correct procedures (safety gloves and office notification), and forge on as best as possible. Some of your favorite stories next summer may well include a few of the disasters that took place during your first days on the job. I'll warn you that first graders throw up; physical education students fall down; chemistry experiments run amuck; cooking projects catch fire. If all of these don't add to the thrill and excitement of the job, what does?