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On your first day in a new primary school classroom, it’s helpful to establish class rules. If you set guidelines, your students will always know what you expect from them, as well as what they should expect from you.

Initially, I worried that my grade 1 and 2 students would have trouble learning my classroom rules. After using PowerPoint and acting out examples, though, the students quickly caught on. I also repeated my class rules at the beginning of each class period. This way, they not only learned the rules—they expanded their English vocabulary! After a few months, even my six-year-olds could recite my three class rules to me.

After going over the guidelines, I rewarded my young students with a song for them to sing and dance to. This system guaranteed they would be well-behaved during rule review time.

It’s good to only have three or four rules in place. Here are several options to get you started.

1. English Only

You can say, “English only,” “No Chinese,” “English, not Chinese,” or whatever variation works for you.

Depending on your students’ ages and proficiency levels, you can be as strict as you think is necessary. For my grade 1 students, I didn’t mind if they spoke to one another in Chinese, but they had to use English when interacting directly with me. If you teach grade 6, you can probably require them to speak only English during class time.

2. No Drawing

Young students love drawing, and sometimes they’d rather be artistic than learn English. Personally, my students’ drawing didn’t bother me, as long as they didn’t distract other children. However, I know other primary school teachers who say it’s a huge problem in their classrooms. If you don’t want your kids being inattentive or distracting their classmates, you may want to adopt this rule.

3. Raise Your Hand

This rule can help rein in students who are a little too chatty. Remind them of this rule when they talk to their friends or yell, “Teacher! Teacher!” to get your attention.

4. Be Respectful

“Be respectful” is a bit of an advanced concept, so it may be best to reserve this for upper primary school students. This phrase is handy because it covers a lot of bases.

This was one of my classroom rules. I explained that if students were “respectful,” that meant they didn’t stand up, run around, talk to their friends, or sleep during lectures. Being respectful meant they did raise their hands, listen to me, look at me, and sit up straight.

5. Be Prepared

When I reminded students to “be prepared,” I asked them if they had all their supplies. They had so much fun holding up their pencils, markers, and rulers to prove they were prepared! This rule was also a good way to review classroom vocabulary.

6. Listen

Students should always be quiet when others are speaking. Not only should they listen to the teacher, but they should also listen to other students when they ask or answer questions.

7. Clean Up

This rule could work for your classroom if you plan on doing a lot of interactive activities with your students. Games such as Bingo can get messy quickly. If you give your students coloring pages, markers and crayons can end up all over their desks and the floor. In these cases, set aside at least five minutes at the end of class for kids to clean up.

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About the Author:

Laura Grace Tarpley
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer and English teacher in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys tinkering with crossword puzzles, reading Bill Bryson books, and taking naps on her huge couch. Follow her travels on her Instagram and Twitter. Or you can check out her blog, Let’s Go, Tarpley!
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