Revisiting Classroom Rules

How often do you revisit classroom rules? Most teachers establish rules at the beginning of the year, and many devote time to modeling and practicing rules with students in the first weeks of school. After that, however, the amount of time spent thinking about what rules mean and how to live by them often drops off dramatically.
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Responding to Defiance in the Moment

Children who defy us often get to the core of our fears as teachers. They make us question our abilities and provoke feelings of insignificance. But when we rise above our own…
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Public Discipline Systems

Public discipline systems—like Class Dojo, stoplights, moving clothespins along a colored card, writing names on the board—can certainly be appealing. Some days can feel as if they’re spent just disciplining, and public…
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Music Class Rules

I’d been teaching for over 30 years and felt pretty comfortable with the way I managed my music classes. But a few years ago, I took a Responsive Classroom workshop, and it…
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Special Area Rules

Special area teachers may come up with their area rules on their own, use or adapt classroom rules, or use schoolwide rules. No matter where your special area rules come from, the…
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Teaching Without Using Rewards

Children build on their strengths, and to do that building—to grow academically and socially—they need us to recognize and encourage their positive efforts. But what’s the best way to offer that recognition…
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Keeping Rules Front and Center During the Winter Slump

Recently I noticed my first graders having more trouble than usual sticking to our classroom rules. Several possible explanations came to mind as I began to reflect:“Am I not doing something I…
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Time-Out & Teaching Self-Regulation

As a classroom teacher I looked forward every year to teaching students all kinds of academic concepts and skills that would enable them to be engaged and successful in their learning. Organizing…
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Responsive Classroom and PBIS

"Are Responsive Classroom and PBIS compatible with each other? Can our school use both?" We at Responsive Classroom hear this a lot from educators. If you're hearing the same from colleagues, or…
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Waiting to Speak

Recently, more than a handful of my first graders were struggling with waiting to ask questions or make comments during direct instruction. I responded by using tried and true teacher practices: giving…
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Twelve Days

That's how long it took for school to start feeling normal to me this year. Up to then I was in full-on back-to-school mode, and so were my students. Kids' shoes were…
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Checking In: Helping Students “Catch Themselves”

Often students struggling with emotional behavioral disabilities are overwhelmed by and over-reactive to daily events that seem mundane to others. They become easily stressed and frustrated, can feel out of control, develop…
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When Children Are Defiant

I once taught a second grader who sometimes subtly refused to go along with what we were doing. For instance, if we had to leave the classroom and John didn't want to…
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Teaching Students How to Wait

If you've ever dined out with children under four years old, you probably brought along a toolkit with games, coloring books, "I Spy" activities, or apps on a mobile device to keep…
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What’s in a Rule?

Rules reveal a lot about what is valued in classrooms and schools. Recently, when visiting classrooms in a large school district, I saw vivid examples of how the rules of each room…
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The First Days of School

What can you do, this school year, to bullyproof your classroom? Establishing a positive classroom climate where kindness prevails and everybody is included is a vital first step.
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When the Teacher Is Away

For years, I had wanted to travel with my father to India, his native country. Finally, I had the opportunity—but the trip meant I would miss five days of school right after…
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Time to Change the Routine?

Which parts of your school day just don't seem to work as well as you'd like? Now's a great time to do some problem-solving, imagine new possibilities, and plan to make changes…
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I Didn’t Do It!

What do you do when a student flat-out denies doing something you know (or are at least pretty sure) she did? Are consequences ever appropriate in this situation? Do you just give…
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Bringing Rules to Life

Do you think that without looking, your students could name your classroom's rules? Most teachers establish classroom rules at the beginning of the year, and many devote time to modeling and practicing…
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Revisiting Rules

I have such great memories of my third grade students' enthusiasm during the gymnastics unit in physical education. After this special, they'd come back to our classroom full of excitement about what…
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Try This: Y-Charts for Revisiting Rules

Are you looking for a strategy to help your students navigate particularly tricky times of day, such as transitions, recess, lunch, or dismissal time? Try making a "looks like/sounds like" chart (often…
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Responding to Misbehavior

No matter how carefully we teach positive behavior, students will still sometimes misbehave. They'll forget the rules, their impulses will win out over their self-control, or they'll just need to test where…
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The First Six Weeks of School

The early weeks of each new school year offer teachers distinct opportunities and challenges. It is during this time—when expectations and routines are established, rules generated, and goals articulated—that the foundation is…
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The Art of Rules

As an art teacher, I'm always looking for ways to adapt Responsive Classroom practices to specialist areas. Here's an idea I came up with for having students do the Hopes and Dreams…
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What to Do About Tattling

"Jaime isn’t lining up in the right place." "Grayson said a bad word." "Olivia hit me!"I know from teaching young children myself how challenging it can be to face a seemingly endless…
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A Real-Life Rules Story

I was sitting stock-still on the interstate in a rental car I needed to return before catching my flight home. As minutes ticked by the on the dashboard clock, I became increasingly…
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