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Common core

Rethinking the rules

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Jaime Vandergrift
Class rulesIt is hard to believe that kids are about to fill the halls again, and somewhere amidst the laughter, reunions, and catching up, we have to get back into the structure that makes a successful year. 

My role this year will be so different from any I have ever had as an educator. I will see nearly 750 students in grades K-5 in our digital learning lab. Establishing a safe and nurturing learning environment is crucial, so of course my mind is swirling with expectations for the learning space. This year I am thinking about it quite differently, and I hope you might be doing the same. 

When it comes to setting rules, let's consider a few key thoughts:  
  • Does language matter? 
  • Is there a difference between classroom rules, expectations, or routines? 
  • What does each suggest to our students as they enter our classroom on the first days of school? 
  • Can rewording a rule make a difference? 
  • What if we had “I will” statements guiding our classroom rules? 
  • Can a positive message make a difference in how students perceive the expectations? 
  • Who makes the rules? 
  • Do students embrace rules and expectations more if they contribute to creating them?
  • How specific do rules and expectations need to be?
  • Can a more overarching expectation allow for a broader vision of classroom citizenship? 

I hope these questions help you, as they have me. To establish the best possible learning environment, sometimes it takes revisiting the most commonplace routines we have established to meet the needs of our ever-changing audience.

Jaime Vendergrift guest blogger

Jaime Vandergrift
is an elementary technology specialist, experienced educator, presenter and conference planner. Jaime is a co-host of EduVue, an EdReach Network Live Education Show.  
Jaime is pursuing her EdS degree from the University of West Georgia in Media and Instructional Technology.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Susan Fisher  

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