Rules and Regulations: A Key to a Positive Learning Environment

A positive classroom environment is when students feel belongingness, and trust, and are encouraged to take on challenges, take risks freely, and are encouraged to ask questions. Such an environment can positively support the delivery of relevant content, clear and explicit goals, and constructive feedback. Students feel valued and have more opportunities to enhance their social quotient. A positive classroom environment is essential for the increase in student learning and achievement. It is also a key ingredient that promotes self-determined learning.

The most critical aspect of classroom management is how an educator makes his/her classroom rules and procedures and implements them. Regulations and methods may vary depending on the classroom environment, the teacher’s style, the geographical location’s culture, the student population and many other factors. But the significant thing is that well-managed classrooms function on the rules and regulations laid down by the educator. An effectively managed classroom without rules and procedures is a myth. It is only possible for students to exhibit appropriate task-specific behaviour with guidelines. The same goes for the teacher and management of the school. 

Without a set of guidelines, the teacher is bound to act differently when similar circumstances appear unfair and unjust in the students’ eyes. In addition to this, inappropriate rules and procedures or their absence from everyday classroom tasks can waste critical classroom time and leave students disinterested and unattentive. It is clear that rules and procedures are a big part of successful classroom delivery, and they should complement the teaching methods instead of countering them. 

Many researchers have suggested that the teacher should have 5-8 rules depending on the classroom. Rules and procedures should be such that the teacher and the students both follow them equally and furthermore, rules are effective when they are observable and measurable. Research also shows that students who follow some rules and procedures at home learn better at school. It is advisable for the parents to regularly advocate the positive aspects of following the rules and follow a set of rules along with their child at home for television time, lunchtime, reading time, etc. 

The purpose of having rules and procedures is to teach responsibility to our students. As time progresses, it goes beyond the classroom and blooms them into responsible global citizens. When stated negatively, rules and procedures concentrate on listing all unacceptable behaviour rather than stating what is expected from the students.

The various types of rules and procedures that educators should have in their classroom management toolbox to maintain a positive classroom environment fall under the following categories: 

  • General classroom behaviour
  • Beginning of the school day or period
  • Transitions and interruptions 
  • Use of materials
  • Group work, seat work or teacher-led activities

Beginning and ending procedures are essential because how the class or day begins sets the tone for the class/day depending on if you are a subject full day or single subject teacher. Similarly, the way a period or the day ends leaves the teacher’s impression in the child’s mind, which carries over to the next time the teacher meets the students. Classrooms that don’t have rules and procedures for transitions and interruptions would often be found in a disruptive state as interruptions are not always in a teacher’s control. Having shared classroom expectations makes the students feel valued, understand the power of collaboration, and give them a clear understanding of the expectations and rules. 

A teacher can know whether his/her classroom is a positive environment or not in many ways. As an educator, one could become an observer in his/her classroom or invite a colleague. The response discrepancy observation method is also a great way to know whether the problem is with a specific child or in the teacher’s classroom management strategies.