As you know, running a classroom is no easy task. You’ve got lessons to plan, students to challenge and support, and parents to communicate with. But if that’s all your students are ready for, what kind of teacher would you be.
You’re the kind of teacher who doesn’t let anything stop them from doing what they know needs to be done. When you sit down to write those classroom rules, you fill them with the spirit of your classroom—you keep them firm but warm, no-nonsense but encouraging. You make sure your students know that there’s nothing they can’t do—they just need to follow the rules first!
If you find yourself nodding along as you read this, we’ve got a few tips that will help you craft an environment where your students can be their best selves while still learning the skills they need to succeed in a challenging world.
The classroom rules for all students in the special education program, regardless of any individualized needs or accommodations, are as follows:
- Be Prepared
Come to class on time with your binder, notebook, assignment notebook, pencils/pens, paper, homework, and other school supplies that you need in order to be successful. If there is a substitute teacher in your class today and you were absent yesterday, check with your teacher before leaving for class if you are unsure about what assignments you need to complete for that day’s lesson.
- Be Responsible
Remain on task during class to help all students learn more effectively. Complete all assignments on time, ask questions when something doesn’t make sense to you so that you have a better understanding of it moving forward, and be sure to let your parents know if work was not completed during class so that the correct arrangements can be made for completing it at home in a timely manner.
- Respect your teachers
This means raising your hand when you want to speak, listening carefully and waiting your turn, and being kind even when you don’t agree with a teacher.
- Respect your classmates
Be nice to everyone, even if they are different from you or have different opinions. You may not understand them, but try to see things from their point of view.
- Stay on task
Don’t distract others—and don’t let them distract you.
- Be safe
This means following the school’s safety rules and watching out for yourself and others around you. It also means not eating or drinking in class without permission—or leaving the classroom without permission, either.
As a special education teacher, it is your job to help students with varying disabilities succeed in their academic and social endeavours. You are responsible for creating a positive and safe learning environment for all students.
Classroom rules for special education students should be clear, concise, and consistent. Students with cognitive disabilities will benefit from rules that are spoken in plain language and accompanied by visual aids. For example, if you want students to “raise their hand before speaking,” you might consider using the phrase “wait your turn” and show them how to signal that they would like to speak.
When introducing new rules, or reviewing existing ones, make sure to keep the number of rules to a minimum so as not to overwhelm your students. Avoid abstract concepts such as “be responsible” or “be respectful” as these terms may be difficult for some of your students to understand. Instead, focus on specific behaviours such as “keep hands to yourself,” “pick up after yourself,” or “do not interrupt other people.”
Make sure your classroom rules are posted somewhere you know will be visible to all students. This may require putting up signs in multiple areas of the room. Be sure to review them regularly so that they remain fresh in your students’ minds.