Classroom Rules
I am always looking for new and better ways to enforce discipline in the classroom without becoming an ogre. I teach in a fairly conservative school, and the necessary freedom and "looseness" of a Drama class is difficult for my students to handle without a very clear structure. This year I've evolved the following rules for my older students. The list is structured so that after each rule the students are expected to follow is a corresponding "rule" that I must follow. I explain this to my students. I agree that imposing rules on others obligates the person imposing those rules to make sure they are not abused. Some of these rules are responses to problems particular to my situation and my school, but some are universal. I include them here not as something anyone would want to adopt in toto, but as one example of an approach to take. With my fourth- and fifth-graders, I do an activity in which we custom-tailor the rules to fit the individual class, adding new ones as necessary. This way the students take ownership of their own discipline. Anyway, here's my list.

Mr. Buchanan's Classroom Rules

  1. Class begins when Mr. Buchanan begins it. Always wait outside the classroom in an ORDERLY LINE until you are invited inside. A class should NEVER enter the classroom while another class is in session.

  2. Mr. Buchanan will do his best never to keep a class waiting too long outside the classroom.
  3. Class ends when Mr. Buchanan ends it. It does not end when the clock says it is time. It does not end when there is another class waiting. Drama activities need to finish on their own.

  4. Mr. Buchanan will try his best never to make you late for another class or for dismissal from school.
  5. Always listen carefully to the rules of any game or activity. Drama class is lots of fun, but it is structured fun. Some rules are negotiable, but all must be followed until they are changed. (Just as Baseball is more fun if everyone follows the rules, Drama class is more fun if we follow the rules.)

  6. Mr. Buchanan will listen to any reasonable concern about the rules of a game, and will do his best to make changes when they will improve the game.
  7. Always raise your hand, and wait to be recognized before speaking (except when the game or activity involves spontaneous speech). Use your common sense. Even adults, when they try to work together in a group, have to take turns speaking, or chaos results.

  8. Mr. Buchanan will try to give everyone a chance to speak-maybe not every time, but frequently.
  9. Try to go to the bathroom before class. Obviously emergencies will occasionally happen, but it is important that everyone be here to participate in the work of the group.

  10. Mr. Buchanan will try to give everyone a chance to relax or change gears when necessary.
  11. NEVER, EVER intentionally hurt someone else. This means no hitting, pushing, etc., but it also means no name-calling or teasing. Drama class can only work if everyone feels safe.

  12. Mr. Buchanan will respect every student as his own person, and try never to belittle or insult anyone. He will work hard to create a safe environment for us to work in.
  13. Everyone is responsible for his own actions. Just because someone else does something wrong does not give you permission to make things worse by doing the same thing. "He did it, too," is never an excuse.

  14. Mr. Buchanan will try always to put a stop to individual behaviors that are harmful to other students.
  15. Someone else's point of view-whether or not you agree with him-is important and must be respected. When someone else is speaking, whether it is Mr. Buchanan or another student, listen respectfully.

  16. Mr. Buchanan will always try to respect everyone's point of view-even though he will often have to make choices about which approaches to take.
  17. Use your common sense. There are many ways in which we know what is expected of us. We have classroom rules, we have the Haverford School handbook and school-wide expectations, and we have the accepted norms of our society. Most of the time we know whether our behavior is appropriate or not. Always strive to be a good citizen in the classroom.

  18. Mr. Buchanan will try to be reasonable and consistent in his discipline and his expectations.

  20. Mr. Buchanan will also try to have fun.