We All Need Rules (Just Don’t Let the Kids Pick Them)

Every school seems to have its own rules, procedures, and routines. There are subtle differences among the schools but they pretty much all have the same things in common.

We expect our students to keep their hands to themselves and to be respectful.

Some schools will spell these rules out and have them posted in the front hall. In other schools the rules are implied and each classroom has its own set of rules posted.

I expect my students to behave in a certain way, so I don’t have a set of rules posted in my room. I have a list of expectations. These expectations are clear and succinct and read as follows . . .

“In this class, we. . . 

Respect – each other, property, rules 


Do Our Work! 

Do Our Best!” 

I like how those rules are simple to understand and remember. They pretty much cover every action and move beyond the hands off, be respectful policy seen in most schools. They illustrate the need to cooperate, put it a solid effort, and to get the work done in the classroom.

I have seen school rules written in complete sentences before such as this brief list. . .

“Our rules are fair and reasonable.  We ALL have to follow them. They are posted for all to see. 

We will use respectful actions and words. 

We will keep our hands to ourselves and respect the property, belongings, and feelings of others. 

We will be responsible participants at school. 

Our rules are supported by the principal, vice-principal, staff, and students.”

Once again, another great set of rules. I like how this one has a rule that pretty much shows bullying is not to be tolerated.

Some schools are now developing what they call “The Big Five” and drafting these new rules with help from the students. I really don’t think this is a good idea, and I’ll tell you why.

You don’t get to choose the rules anywhere else in life. I can’t make up my own rules when I’m driving on the highway. I have to accept the rules when I step on the soccer field and play in a house league. I can think of many other examples to illustrate this point.

Educators know what rules should be enforced and ultimately have the best interests of the children in mind.

Our students are well aware of how they should behave in school but they might not be the best ones to draft up the rules. We could end up with something as extreme as Lord of the Flies or we could end up with a list of privileges and entitlements that allow our students to engage in activities that take away from the reason they are there – to learn.

Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to open up a discussion about rules, their importance, and why each schools needs their own set of rules.

Just leave the final drafting of those rules to the teachers and the principal.


What are your thoughts? 

Does your school have a “Big Five?”

Does it work? 

What would you change? 

Please leave a comment below and add to the discussion.

5 responses to “We All Need Rules (Just Don’t Let the Kids Pick Them)”

  1. Hi Chase .. I just have the big School of Life now – but those principles I learnt years ago – ahve stood me in good stead.

    Respect my elders ..
    Do more than is necessary ..
    Treat everywhere like home .. neat, tidy ..
    Smile, say please and thank you ..
    Be accountable
    Help others

    Good thoughts – I just hope kids will grow up healthy and happy, with an opportunistic outlook .. cheers with a smile Hilary

  2. My most recent batch of classroom expectations (I call them that too) stem from my board's 10 character education traits. This helps show the students that we are not just focusing on them for the month that the trait is highlighted, but rather all year long. They are much lengthier than my original expectations, but sometimes I find that too concise expectations are too vague for some students.

    Respect – Treat yourself and others as you want to be treated.

    Responsibility – Take control of your own actions and follow through with what you say.

    Empathy – Consider the feelings of others.

    Perserverance – Keep trying to obtain your goals and ask for help when needed.

    Integrity – Present your best self and take pride in your honesty and your accomplishments.

    Fairness – Learn to compromise and work together. Fair does not mean same for everyone.