School Climate & Safety Opinion

New Year’s Resolution: Classroom Procedures, Not Rules

By David Ginsburg — August 20, 2012 1 min read
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For educators the new year begins September 1, which means the time for resolutions is now, not January. And here’s a perfect resolution for those of you who spend a lot of time and energy establishing and enforcing classroom rules: stop doing this. Instead, provide students clear procedures that will enable them to meet your expectations.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you try to control kids. That’s what most disciplinary rules are about. Procedures, on the other hand, are about giving kids the structure they need in order to thrive. You can’t do your best at anything if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. That’s the way it is in most arenas, so why would the classroom be any different?

Check out this short clip from a coaching conference of mine for a great example of the power of procedures:

Yep, clearer procedures, fewer behavior issues. Tell kids what you want them to do, and they’re going to be more responsible and cooperative. What a contrast with rules, which focus on what you don’t want kids to do. (And of course many of them do it anyway--after all, rules are meant to be broken.)

Revisit my previous posts about rules for more on why you don’t need many (if any) of them, and guidelines for when you do need them. And get to work ASAP on developing clear classroom procedures for the new year. Here are a few articles from Harry and Rosemary Wong’s Effective Teaching column on Teachers.Net to help you get started:

The Power of Procedures Effective From the Start PowerPoint Procedures

Happy New Year!

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The opinions expressed in Coach G’s Teaching Tips are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.