Breathing New Life into the Rules
Teachers and students alike return from a well-deserved winter break refreshed, looking toward new possibilities. The new year welcomes endless opportunities to reestablish goals, renew and revisit routines, and refresh well-known class rules. January is a fitting time to reevaluate the rules and try out strategies and practices to help students center their attention on continuing to strengthen a positive classroom community to start the new year in a positive way. Here are a few ways to look at the rules through fresh eyes.
Start the Day in a Positive Way
Consider focusing on the rules during Morning Meeting or Responsive Advisory Meeting. Use the morning message or announcements to draw students’ attention to rules that can support them in being successful in their learning throughout the school day.
Build in Opportunities for Reflection
Consider building in times throughout the day when students can reflect on class rules. Reflection can occur during a set time of the day, such as closing circle, or as students transition from one subject to the next. Try guiding student reflection with questions such as:
- “Which of our class rules did you use today to help you _____?”
- “When are some times during the day that it might be tricky to remember our rules?”
- “How did our rule of _____ help us with _____?”
- “When are some times during the day that you noticed our class following the rule _____?”
- “Which rules would help us be successful with _____ tomorrow?”
Bring Attention to the Rules by Setting Small Goals
Consider discussing and choosing a class rule to focus on during a specific subject or unit or during a particularly tricky part of the day, such as dismissal or transitions. As that time of the day approaches, draw students’ attention to the rules and remind students of the goal. You might use a language stem such as: “What will it look like when we are following our rule _____?”
Revisit Helpful Practices
Consider revisiting Responsive Classroom practices such as Interactive Modeling or role-play to support students in practicing and reexamining what the rules look like, sound like, and feel like in action. Both Interactive Modeling and role-play provide opportunities to refresh and strengthen skills, procedures, and routines. Interactive Modeling reminds students of the expectations for nonnegotiable procedures and routines that keep the classroom community safe, while the practice of role-play strengthens students’ repertoire of handling social situations in positive ways.
Taking time to revisit rules helps keep them fresh and present in students’ minds. As the school year progresses and challenging situations arise, spending the time to remind students of the rules allows you to positively guide students in meeting expectations to help them better notice areas of strength and areas in which to grow so that they can be successful throughout the year.