Routine, routine, routine. This was something that I wanted to implement in my classroom during my student teaching experience as a way to set some classroom rules and expectations. With my students, a couple of the big issues in our class and school is abiding by the uniform policy (jeans and a plain white t-shirt) and making it to class on time. This has been a struggle since the beginning of the school year, and it was one of the things I expected to have to battle from day one.
Since day one though, we have set guidelines for students in our class, and have followed through with those guidelines. In regards to the uniform, the policy is simple, you have to BE IN UNIFORM. I know that can be a very difficult message to understand, but we have been very clear about it. One way I have tried to work on the students is stand at the door during the passing period and tell them they need to have a uniform on before they enter the room. Students will argue, and complain, but one thing we try to convey to them is their obligation to following the rules, and this obligation will be with them for the rest of their life. Consequently, our consistency with students has started to pay off.
The same can be said about tardies. Students find some of the most interesting excuses for being tardy, and I do try to be empathetic to some of the excuses, but the rule is simple. If you are not in the class when the bell rings, you are TARDY. No other way around it. When students are tardy, we try to have a conversation with them about why they were tardy, and if it persists, then a call home is made. If it still persists, then it could affect their grade. Being consistent is the key though, and making sure the students recognize this consistency is imperative. If they sense a hole in your plan, or a weakness, then they will attack it.
Consistency wins out with a lot of other strategies, but these were two of the main problems that I have seen day in and day out during my student teaching experience. Setting the tone early in year is important to the success of the class further down the road. Consistency also seems to help the students, establishing a set of expectations for them, which takes some of the “crazy” out of their already too crazy lives.