Very often, what a teacher refers to as a rule is really a procedure. We need look no further than to one of the first rules primary students are given. They are taught the classroom rule of raising one’s hand to be recognized by the teacher before speaking out. The same rule is taught year after year. I have even seen this rule posted in eighth grade classrooms! Simply reminding students that this is a procedure, rather than a rule, places the teacher in the position of a coach and eliminates an enforcement mentality.
We too often assume that students know what we know and what we would like them to do. This assumption is faulty. Teach procedures—such as how to enter the classroom, how to use an activity center, how to distribute supplies, or anything else that requires a mode of operation. A successful classroom has routines and procedures, which give organization and structure to learning. See the list of Procedures to Consider in the book Discipline Without Stress.