A New View on Rules, Consequences, and Rewards

Many school districts require their teachers to post rules, consequences, and rewards in the classroom. The theory is that if children know what the rules are and what happens if they break them or follow them, discipline issues will cease. This, of course, doesn’t work. Here’s a better approach that will instill responsibility in your students, reduce discipline issues, and appease the administrators in your district.

1. Post classroom expectations or standards, instead of rules.
Standards are much different than rules. Standards engender student empowerment. They promote an esprit de corps in the classroom, similar to what occurs with any team. Standards serve as expectations, and expectations are responsibility lifting. They tap into internal motivation and foster commitment, rather than compliance. Here are some examples of classroom standards you could post:

  • Do my work
  • Have materials
  • Be where I belong
  • Control myself
  • Follow directions
  • Speak considerately
  • Be prompt
  • Bring materials
  • Listen for instructions
  • Honor self and others
  • Accept ownership of my choices

2. Describe how students are held accountable for consequences in your room, with a statement such as the following:
Consequences will be elicited from students as necessary, and directly tied to each particular situation.

3. Describe the rewards your students will reap from choosing to be motivated internally:
Students will be encouraged to reflect on the satisfying inner rewards that accompany responsible and high level behavior. Encouragement and acknowledgement will be given every day!