Classroom Rules: Imagine it's the last lesson of the year.

This tweet

led me to this video

in which Tom Bennett says that teachers should not negotiate classroom rules with students, because they may produce rules which are not sensible.  I'm not sure if I agree, but it struck me that I should share what I do.

I start new classes by asking them to imagine it is the last lesson of the year. They are walking out of the door, and I have a wee tear in my eye, because they have been the best class I have ever had, and am really going to miss them. I ask them to tell me what they think they will have to do during the year in order to make that happen.

I am not pretending that they are in control, but having generated the list of behaviours (which has always been pretty good, even with some very challenging classes) I ask them if they think they can live up to this list. They have always said yes to me. I must say I only began doing this some years into my career. I don't think I would have had the confidence to do it as an NQT.

I then ask them what I have to do for them to say at the end of the year that I have been the best teacher ever. This does usually generate some humorous answers - CAKE! - but by and large they tell me what they actually want: patient, clear, fair etc. I tell them if I can live up to their list. Usually I can agree to most of their expectations.  If they don't say it, I will add "have high expectations of you" to the list, and explain why.

If the "imagine..." chat doesn't work for you, a more straightforward approach is simply to ask "what do you think I am going to expect from you?" Again you are not kidding on that they are in control, but you are giving them the opportunity to show that they know what is expected of them, rather than presenting them with rules without discussion. Then ask "what do you expect of me?"

I'm sure I didn't make this technique up, but I can't remember where it came from. Please let me know if you know. It works for me.


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