5 Classroom Rules together make up the second piece of the Whole Brain Teaching system known as The Big Seven. Each of the five rules is stated in positive terms and has a corresponding gesture. Students rehearse the rules several times a day – at the start of each day, after lunch and every recess. I also like to have my students rehearse the rules when they return from their special area class. This way, the rules become more than just posters on the wall. They organize all the behaviors in our classroom.
WBT’s 5 Classroom Rules
The five rules were created by the Whole Brain Teaching founders in 1999:
- Follow directions quickly!
- Raise your hand for permission to speak.
- Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
- Make smart choices.
- Keep your dear teacher happy.
Changing Rule #3
I liked the original rules, but still felt that I would have to make two crucial changes if I was going to enforce them with my own students. First, I modified Rule #3 to the following – “Raise your hand for permission to leave the room.” I removed “seat” and replaced it with “room.” I’ve been teaching for 17 years and I know how many times a day students need to leave their seats for legitimate reasons. Anything from blowing their runny noses, sharpening a broken pencil, or just turning in a completed assignment. I simply couldn’t fathom students raising their hands all day long just to leave their seat! I felt that this was a necessary change if I wanted to maintain my sanity.
Changing Rule #4
My second change was a little more drastic. I completely replaced Rule #4 with my own version – “Keep hands, feet and objects to yourself.” It’s a more specific variation on the original. I did this for two reasons. First, my school uses the Positive Behavior System (PBIS). That program encourages using language to describe specific, observable student behaviors. “Make smart choices” was a little too vague for me. The second reason for changing this rule was again based on my experience. I’ve had “Keep hands, feet and objects to yourself” as a rule for years, and I can testify to how frequently this rule gets referred to throughout each day!
What About Homework??
I admit to having some qualms with the rules, though. For the first time since I can remember, I don’t have a rule that specifically addresses turning assignments in on time. After lots of research into the WBT Universal Homework Model, I am no longer worried about that rule being removed from my list. Also, after every assignment I always explain when and where to place the completed assignment…not doing so is in violation of Rule #1: Follow directions quickly. And not turning in an assignment? Well, that’s not making your dear teacher happy, which is Rule #5.
Since I changed the wording, I needed to find some graphics that supported my version of the 5 Classroom Rules. Fortunately, I found a set of the same images created by Whole Brain Teaching with the text removed. It was super-easy to insert my own wording into the empty speech bubbles and hit the print button. I printed each poster on white card stock and laminated it for durability. They were on the wall this past June when summer school started and I got to put them into practice.
5 Classroom Rules Video
I’m contemplating my first few days of school next month, and just how to introduce the routines and rules for Whole Brain Teaching. You can be sure that the 5 Classroom Rules will feature prominently into each day. In the video below, Chris Biffle explains more about the rules and how to weave them into your daily instruction. I found it very useful because he describes a way of teaching where the rules become so much more than either disregarded posters on the walls or a means of punishment for disruptive students.
Another way I plan to reinforce the 5 Classroom Rules, especially at the start of the school year, is to provide them with writing opportunities. First, I have a 5 Classroom Rules Review, where students will be asked to look at a graphic and identify the corresponding rule. I have also created some cursive handwriting practice pages that use the 5 Classroom Rules. Simple, but specific – just what’s needed in August.
Resources and Ideas
Here’s a list of some of the resources I’ve mentioned in today’s post. If you have a classroom blog, each rule would make a great post. For example, you could write about a hypothetical situation and ask students to identify which rule is being broken and explain why the rule is important. If your school uses Class Meetings, the 5 Classroom Rules would make wonderful discussion starters, especially as they relate to current classroom dynamics. The possibilities are unlimited!