25 January 2014

reasons to clarify your classroom rules


Because I teach in a very small school in a very small town, I often get to fill roles that I wouldn't have the opportunity to in a different situation. (see? see me finding the good?!)

This week, I had one of those opportunities. As a kinder student was hauled out of class, I just so happened to be standing in the hallway. And it just so happened that the principal needed to attend to another important matter. So I got to run a little behavior intervention. This sweet, docile student, P, had apparently lobbed his pencil box across the room, aiming at the head of another student. And he hit him. Right smack in the nugget.

After a little relationship building (letting him try on my glasses) and maaaaaany minutes of conversation in both English and Spanish, I finally got out of him that the other student had said something ugly, in English, but little P didn't want to say it because he wasn't supposed to. As I attempted to convince him that he needed to tell me the word so I could chat with the offender, but that P wouldn't get in trouble, the principal returned. We walked him into an empty classroom, and she asked him to whisper the word. He seemed a little confused by whispering, so she showed him. He nervously leaned up right next to her ear and yelled "F*CK!" and then covered his precious little bright red face with both hands.

After a little more discussion, P revealed that the boy had dropped an f-bomb while working, and the rule in the classroom if you don't know what to do when something bad happens is:

"Tell Mrs. _____."

And Mrs. _____ was at an appointment, so a sub was in the room. And to little P, that meant taking matters into his own hands.

LOVE this graphic representation of rules/behavior from The Autism Helper
So, back to the title of the post... I have been inspired to reevaluate the way I explain things in my room and to spread the word- Classroom teachers, thiiiink about the language you use to explain your classroom rules, especially if you have a student who is on the spectrum or is labeled with Asperger's, or any other social/communication challenges. At least once a week, try to do a think aloud scenario with your students about how to react to different situations in regards to classroom rules. Use social stories to explain common confusions. You never know students may act on the laws you (their wise and perfect leader- suriously) lay down and spending a few extra minutes clarifying could save drama... or another child's cabeza! ;)

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