Students that suffer from trauma or have neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD, excessive and complicated rules can be easily forgotten or be found confusing. Most classrooms and teachers have specific procedures such as “put your name on your paper” but these are not rules and should not be conveyed as such. For most classrooms, two basic rules will suffice. Each rule can be expanded to cover every aspect of classroom management and expectations.
- Be kind to yourself or others by keeping harmful thoughts and comments to yourself
- Use inappropriate language for the situation and audience
- Let teachers and peers finish speaking before responding
- All contributions are valid and valued and should be respected
This simple rule allows teachers to discourage bullying while fostering friendships and creating a learning environment that feels safe for explorative learning. Implemented correctly, students will feel comfortable to share and participate in classroom discussions without judgement, shame and undue criticism.
- Arrive on time and prepared to school
- Complete all assignments in a timely manner
- Do NOT take objects or ideas that do not belong to you
- Cite and respect others for their ideas and contributions
As with Rule #1, there is great flexibility and meaning with this rule. As life dictates, people need to be responsible for themselves and their actions; students are not exempt. Being responsible includes being timely and completing your assigned tasks, jobs or work. Not stealing object as well as not stealing ideas – otherwise known as plagiarism – is also key to begin teaching at a very young age.
Classroom procedures are crucial to avoid chaos, but rules need to be few and simple. Sticking to these two simple and direct rules will create a safe, trauma informed classroom all while making clear classroom expectations. For the purpose of classroom discussions or posters, the term ‘classroom expectations’ would be preferred to ‘rules’ hands down.