Monday, November 19, 2012

Elementary Art Classroom Rules

A few years ago, there was a terrible grade of elementary students that I had to teach. Those students were out of their seats numerous times during class, they would yell, they would throw things, they were mean to each other, they would constantly blurt out, they wouldn’t stop talking long enough to hear any of the directions I gave, they wouldn’t follow the directions if they did hear them, and it was just a miserable experience. It wasn’t just in my classroom either – their regular teachers had the same problems with that group of students that I was having. I really did not enjoy teaching that particular grade that year, and I really resented going to work the days that those students had art because their behavior was so deplorable.

The main problem I was having was that the students either couldn’t remember the classroom rules or just chose not to follow them. I only have 3 rules in my classroom, but overall, my classes were not following them and it make art class a miserable experience for everyone.

These are my rules:
  • Be Ready! Come in quietly and sit. Stop when the teacher says, “I need your attention”
  • Be Respectful! Don’t talk when the teacher is talking. Raise your hand.
  • Be Neat! Listen to cleanup directions. Follow all directions during cleanup.
So, my solution was to have the students start every single art class by reciting the classroom rules. I made a PowerPoint with the rules written in the first person for them to follow along and read. Some of the kids didn’t mind because there was just enough animation to keep them interested, but some of the kids hated it. I told them that if they could show me that they knew the rules, the class wouldn’t have to read them anymore.

It really made a big difference. There was a lot less yelling, less disrespect, and it cut down on interruptions. For one of the classes, once the students demonstrated that they remembered the rules pretty quickly, so they no longer had to read them. They really liked that. Another class, however, had to read the rules every day until the last day of school. When the next school year started, we went over the rules and expectations on the first day. I asked them if they wanted to read the rules every day like they did last year, and they said, “No!” I reminded them that as long as they demonstrated that they knew the rules they wouldn’t have to read them. That was a few years ago, and they haven’t had to read the rules again.

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