If you’re thinking about back to school, you’re probably thinking about classroom management, and perhaps the classroom rules poster that you’d like to display this year. As a principal, I had a few catchphrases that I used particularly often, with both parents and faculty. One of them was, “Children understand limits as love.” In other words, when there are no rules, kids don’t feel safe.

When I think about classroom rules, I think more of community bonds than a list of restrictions. Lists of restrictions are like a challenge to kids: I see your list, and I raise you one! Whereas, community bonds promote the behaviors that strengthen us as a group of learners and friends.

Here’s a template for you that offers an initial set of classroom guidelines that cover the basics of how we want students to manage themselves and their work, and how they treat others. It’s followed by resources to help teachers develop in more detail their approach to classroom rules, behavior management, and routines.

The first resource is a clickable poster with a set of teacher guidelines. The second is lesson plans that you can do with students in the opening weeks of school aimed at developing classroom rules. Next is an intro to restorative justice circles, a guaranteed approach to building strong community bonds and aiding immensely with how to handle discipline. Lastly, a helpful guide as you consider all of this.

As students return to school, let’s empower them to make good choices about how to be a friend, a learner, and a citizen by building strong community bonds. No one likes to be told what to do, and also, all of us are more successful when we feel included in developing the guidelines that govern how we live in community.

Happy teaching.

Classroom Rules Poster