Bringing Classroom Rules to Life

School rules. The mere mention of these words can elicit heavy sighs and moans from children and adults alike. Rules order us around. Rules constrict us. "No running, no hitting, no pushing, no cutting in line, don't interrupt . . ." As one young child put it, "You want to do something and the teacher just comes along and says you can't!"
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A Quiet Place for Rough Moments

Alison, a young five-year-old I taught recently, struggled with separation anxiety at the beginning of the year. She had a hard time saying goodbye to her dad when he dropped her off…
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Traveling Rules

Q: The classroom environment is calmer and friendlier when I work with the children to create classroom rules. But I still get reports from lunch, recess, and special area teachers about problematic…
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In Just a Minute

The classroom day is filled with times when children need to wait. They wait in line until everyone cleans up. They wait their turn at the drinking fountain. They wait in the…
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Group Activities That Reinforce Academic Skills

Question: I'm concerned that the group activity portion of our Morning Meeting mostly has become a time to play games. I know it’s important for the students to have fun together, but…
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Displaying Student Work

A classroom filled with the work of children is a delight to be in and sends a message to students that their work and their learning are important. Although early in the…
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Singing with Children

I remember singing along with friends in my elementary school days. Teachers and students together began each day with singing. We learned about music from our music teacher, but we sang everywhere,…
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Winter Holidays

Question:The children in my classroom come from many different traditions and cultures. I know the winter holidays could be a great opportunity for children to learn about each other’s cultures but I’m…
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Powerful Words

In 1993, after teaching for twenty years, I still loved my chosen profession, but I often felt frustrated. It seemed as though I spent an inordinate amount of time on classroom management…
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Signals for Quiet

Question: I’ve read about using a signal to get children’s attention and let them know it’s time to be quiet. I’ve tried raising my hand but most of the time, children keep…
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Teaching Children to Care

Editor’s note: Teaching Children to Care by Ruth Sidney Charney, first published in 1991, has transformed many teachers’ practices. This well-loved book has sold over 70,000 copies and is widely used as…
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The Bus Bully Project

Adapted excerpts from Northeast Foundation for Children's new book, Kids Taking Action: Community Service Learning Projects, K-8
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Community Service Learning

Question:I’ve heard a lot about community service learning (CSL) and love the idea of combining service to the community with academic learning. I’d like to get a project going in my classroom,…
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Refusing to Go to Time-Out

April 2002Question:I’ve had pretty good success using time-out with most children. I have children go to time-out to regain their self-control as they start to lose it. But what about the child…
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Games Kids Love to Play

Do you remember the playground on a bright spring day, flinging off your coat in a mad dash for the monkey bars or choosing up teams for a fast game of dodgeball?…
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Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Question:Holidays can sometimes be a mixed blessing in schools. For example, students love to exchange cards on Valentine’s Day but every year there are problems. Sometimes the exchange seems too competitive and…
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Using Computers to Build Community

Imagine this: It’s academic choice time in your classroom and groups of three and four students are clustered around computer workstations. Two groups are planning an Internet-based inquiry project. Another group is…
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Restless in Morning Meeting

February 2002Question:I teach first grade. I find that by the end of Morning Meeting, my students tend to be fidgety and restless, so I’ve been taking them out for recess after meeting…
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“Like Being at the Breakfast Table”

Adapted, with permission, from an article in Childhood Education, Spring 2001
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Working with Families

Question:In my classroom this year, I am implementing two teaching strategies, Morning Meeting and Rules and Logical Consequences, but I’m concerned about parents’ reactions. I can imagine that they will worry that…
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Choosing Choice

Several years ago, the school at which I was teaching adopted a new series of teacher’s manuals for reading and spelling and asked that teachers use them to guide their instruction. The…
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A Comfortable Routine in Uncomfortable Times

In the days and weeks following the events of September 11th, many teachers and children around the country gathered each morning in the comforting routine of Morning Meeting, a daily ritual that…
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Welcoming Second Language Learners

Question:The number of students speaking English as a second language (ESL) is steadily increasing. These children come to the classroom with diverse cultural backgrounds and varying degrees of proficiency with English. We…
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Hopes and Dreams in a Primary Classroom

I love the beginning of each school year with the coming of fresh new faces to excited to learn. Most of my students have been to kindergarten and come to first grade…
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Classroom Spaces That Work

Imagine spending every day in a physical space designed for people much bigger than you. To wash your hands or get a drink of water, you’d have to drag a chair over…
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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Question:The end of the school year offers a unique opportunity for students and teachers to reflect on their year of learning together. It’s a time to recognize efforts, celebrate achievements, acknowledge challenges,…
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A Conflict Resolution Protocol for Elementary Classrooms

April 2000A basic belief underlying The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching is that how children learn to treat one another is as important as what they learn in reading, writing, and arithmetic.…
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