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Music Teacher Tips - #4 - Classroom Rules

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Music Teacher Tip #4 - #ClassroomRules:

Here are the rules I posted in my classroom for years. They work for elementary and middle school.

1. Follow all teacher directions promptly.

(For younger students, you may need to teach them what ”promptly” means. This rule is great because if a student is doing something inappropriate, but is not explicitly against the rules, all you have to do is tell them what to do and if they don’t do it promptly, they’ve broken rule number 1.)

2. Stay in your assigned area unless you have permission to move.

(Notice it doesn’t say “seat” because students shouldn’t be seated for a full music class of any kind.)

3. Raise your hand for permission to speak.

(For older students you may prefer to say “Speak only when appropriate” and then teach them what “appropriate” would look like.)

4. Keep hands and feet to yourself.

(This rule is necessary with more challenging groups even through grade 8. The more challenging the student, the more important it is to have concrete rules.)

5. Show respect to all people and property.

(With less challenging students, this rule may eliminate the need for rule number 4.)

High school students may not need #2 or #4. For more advanced students with fewer behavioral challenges, you may only need #5.

No matter what rules you have, it’s essential that you teach them the same way you would teach your content. Explain, model, check for understanding, and practice! If students struggle to understand or execute a rule, re-teach it and repeat the steps above.

For example, if you notice students are calling out. Stop what you were doing and refer students back to the rules. Say, “Raise your hand if we can tell me what you should do if you want to say something.” You can even gesture toward your rules as a hint. Then you can also remind students that you want to hear what they have to say, but you can only call on those who follow the rule. Then literally practice having them follow this rule. Say, “Let’s see who can get this right; I’m going to make it tricky.” Then ask a really easy question that will make them want to call out like, “What’s my name?” If someone calls out because they’re excited, say, “Awww, I wish I could call on you, but you didn’t raise your hand, so I’m going to call on someone who’s SILENTLY raising their hand.” And then call on someone who is doing that.

Remember, students will do what you teach them. Keep repeating the following steps:

1. Until they’re trained, ALWAYS say, “Raise your hand if you can tell me....”

2. Only call on those with their hands raised.

3. Acknowledge and praise them when the rule has been followed. Explain that that’s why you called on who you did.

If you are consistent....

Problem solved. 😁

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