I talked with my class yesterday about rules and procedures. I’m sure most of it went “in one ear and out the other”, but eventually the two concepts will make sense and they will relax a bit about “getting in trouble”. At first everything at school is not only complicated and confusing, but far too structured for little minds to comprehend. Most young children want to please adults and they are very aware of the consequences when they don’t. For some those consequences have been too severe and they come to school fearful of not being able to remember all the rules. One of my students was cleaning up yesterday and dropped part of her lunch. She started crying and I asked her if she was hurt. When she said she wasn’t, I told her, “Then there’s no reason to cry. You’re not in trouble. You just dropped something and you can pick it up.” Big sniffles, then a smile.
I keep the rules for my class pretty simple:
- Listen to teacher.
- Use your quiet voice.
- Be kind to others.
- Do your best work.
- Walk in the building.
As I explained to my students yesterday, almost everything else we do is just a procedure, “a way of doing things efficiently”. We walk around our art table in one direction as we put up our attendance cards, because that keeps the flow of students going and no one gets stuck in front of our chart. We take one table toy off the shelf at a time because that guarantees that there are enough toys for everyone to choose something, and it makes cleanup time faster and easier. Our whole day is a series of routines and schedules and procedures. Once established these give students knowledge and security. They are confident that they know “how things work”.
The nice thing about procedures is that they can be modified if necessary. If someone has an idea for doing things a better way, or the procedure that worked with last year’s class doesn’t work with this one, I can change it. Of course I have to have a reason to change and I have to explain it to the class if I change something they’re already doing. They let me know in a heartbeat “that’s not the way you said to do it”. LOL
So…we begin a new year! Rules and procedures. Work and play. Smiles and few tears.