Back to School Activities – “The 4Rs”

At the start of the school year I spend a lot of time establishing “The 4Rs”, Rules, Rights, Responsibilities and Routines (again, a Bill Rogers idea!).  Class rules have a large role to play in creating a cohesive class atmosphere while also helping with ongoing classroom management.  Rights are the expectations that the student has of the school. For example, the student expecting to be treated with respect and to be safe.  Explaining student rights can be difficult at first, however, I have found that the students soon understand and embrace the ideas.

I generally see student responsibilities as two fold, the students have a responsibility to follow the classroom rules and respect the rights of others as well as having responsibilities, or jobs, within the classroom.  I use class jobs as a way to foster a sense of belonging and responsibility (for more information about class jobs please see the post “classroom jobs” below).  The last of “The 4Rs” is routines.  Having routines helps children feel safe and at ease.  This does not mean that a classroom has to be overly regimented, just that children have an idea of why, how and when things are done. For more information about classroom routines you can read a good article by Denise Young entitled “Classroom routines and procedures”.

During the first week of school I discuss classroom rules with the students.  I explain why I believe they are important and ask them to think of rules they have had in previous classrooms.  I write these on the board and ask if we can write any of the rules in a more positive tone.  For example, instead of writing, “Don’t run in the classroom,” I write, “We walk in the classroom.”  Writing the rules in this way emphasizes what the student should do rather than what they should not do.

Below are two sheets to help you create class rules. The first is a sheet I give to groups of two or three students and ask them to formulate class rules.  The second sheet contains the class rules I had on my classroom wall this year.  I photocopied this sheet on different colored A3 paper and displayed it around my classroom.

Creating Rules.doc
Class Rules Example.doc

For more information about “The 4Rs” please read this keynote address from Bill Rogers:
www.antibullying.net/documents/freshstart.doc