Friday, April 29, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching Class Rules

I have always had rules posted in my classroom.  What teacher doesn't?   I would reference them occasionally, yet I never really knew how to use them to have a true impact on my classroom. 

This year I tried the Whole Brain Teaching approach to classroom rules.  I used the five classroom rules as inspiration and tailored them to my school and classroom.   We rehearsed the rules constantly the first few weeks of school.  We used gestures and the students had their first experience with the teach-ok as they taught each other the rules.

Early on we created the following video to showcase our rules on our class website.  (The video has been edited for privacy.  My rule #5 was cut off: "Do it the right way, all the way, and in a happy way!")

The beauty of the rules is that I use them throughout the day to manage behavior in a positive manner.  Before beginning an independent work time I say, "Rule #1." 
The class responds with, "Raise your hand to speak."
" Rule #2," I say. 
"Raise your hand to leave your seat." 
It is an easy way to reinforce the expectations.

When a student is out of their seat to talk to me I simply hold up 2 fingers as a reminder of rule #2.  When someone blurts out in class, I simply say, "Rule #1."  The whole class chimes in to repeat the rule.  Obviously, rule 1 and rule 2 are referenced most in class.  This procedure really helps me to stay calm.  Rather than trying to raise my voice, I calmly repeat the rules.

Part way through the year I realized the value of the WBT rule, "Follow directions quickly."  It was not part of my set of rules initially, but I quickly saw the value of such a rule and adopted it as my rule #6

I have one student who has minor behavior issues quite frequently.  He also has trouble communicating clearly.  At the beginning of the year, if I stopped to talk to him about his behavior he might begin telling me about his summer vacation!  I felt like there was no getting through to him.  The class rules have been AMAZING in dealing with this student!  It wasn't long before he knew the class rules better than I did!    Now if I ask him what rule he broke, he can respond correctly about 98% of the time.  The rules give us a common language to express expectations and discuss behavior.  Thank you WBT!


  1. Thanks for sharing the video. Good idea to have the blue band

  2. The cool thing about the video is that the parents can see what it means to practice the rules once we get to the practice card stage. I also had a new student who checked out our class webpage and watched the videos before he even attended class the first day!