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At the end of the article are guiding questions for the educator.
The world is an entanglement of rules in which everyone is subjected. There are written rules like laws against stealing, but there are also unwritten rules that society follows such as tipping the waitress. There are rules the company applies to jobs such as not being late, but as educators who are in control of the classroom, should we create rules so we can monitor ourselves?
Some educators will balk at the idea that they have to produce a set of rules to follow, but if put into proper perspective, a set of rules will provide structure and provide each class with a standard of what to expect from the educator. Again, some educators will point out that they do not need to create rules because they will always teach according to their style and that will maintain equilibrium for the course. This is good in theory, but does not account for external factors which cloud the educator’s responsibilities at times.
Also, this idea can be associated with the complexity/chaos theory which suggests that little changes can have great effect on future events. This is usually called “the butterfly effect.” The common analogy says that a butterfly flapping his wings at the proper time and place can ultimately create a hurricane weeks later. Educator rules will not create something so disproportionate, but little rules can create changes in the classroom.
Here is a list of possible rules to consider. As always, the educator is free to choose what he wants to do with this information. This is not a complete list of possible rules, nor does the educator have to agree with these rules. These rules are a way to allow the educator to think about how implementing their own rules can create changes in the classroom.
Be on Time
Being punctual for class seems like a standard that educators would not ignore, but some educators are constantly late for class. Whether it is one minute or five minutes, late is late. However, sometimes unexpected problems or situations arise that do not allow the educator to attend class on time such as student problems, talking with the boss, etc… On the other hand, there are times when educators do not feel like going to class, maybe it has been a long day, or the class is unmotivated and the dread of facing them brings on procrastination. There are multiple reasons educators can make to delay attending class.
The Butterfly Effect: A rule about being on time effects the mindset of responsibility to attend class on time. With this rule in place the educator should go from “I don’t want to go to class now” to “I don’t want to go to class, but it’s part of my job duties.” This does not sound like a big difference, but as far as a mental mindset, it makes a huge difference.
Also, student perception should be considered. Whether it is true or not, an educator who is always tardy could be seen as not taking his job seriously. On the other hand, being on time conveys the idea that the educator is serious about the class and may encourage students to become more serious and be on time. Students watch what educators do just as much as they listen to what they say.
Some educators do not want to admit when they are wrong to the class. It happens from time to time that the educator will make a mistake in regards to the information being taught, or may overreact to a situation. No one is perfect, and students do not expect the educator to be perfect.
So having a rule to always admit mistakes and apologize for indiscretions can help educators have an easier time facing the music.
The Butterfly Effect: Students usually gain a healthy respect for the educator when admitting to a mistake. On the other hand, when students can prove that the educator is not correct, but the educator will not admit it, they quickly lose respect and question how much they can trust what is being taught. The best practice is to admit it and laugh it off.
At the same time, students, who are normally uneasy with producing language because of potential mistakes, see that everyone is prone to mistakes and find encouragement to try. The students will start to view mistakes as something that happens to everyone and not something to be ashamed. However, try to research your topic thoroughly to minimize the mistakes. Every now and then is okay, but all the time will bring into question intelligence.
This will be a major sticking point and something that draws ire from educators when discussed. What is proper dress for an educator? Ask ten people and there will be ten different responses. Instead of asking what is proper, maybe the best question is to ask: What image are you trying to convey to students? Some educators will point back to a respected professor that dressed slovenly, but still garnered respect from students. Or, point out how Google or other companies allow people to dress the way they want. This is all fine, but they are exceptions to the unwritten rule that people will judge the cover before understanding what is inside.
The Butterfly Effect: The educator is the leader of the class and many students want the leader to dress as a leader. If students are not treating the educator with respect, it could be they do not see the educator as a leader amongst other things. Constantly dressing professional sends a non-verbal message of leadership to the students. Resist the temptation to dress down because it is too hot, it is raining, or any other excuse that can be made. Students notice the inconsistency. The number one rule to remember: people form opinions on the outer appearance before they find out inner capabilities; and sometimes, those opinions affect how they view capabilities. Whether this outward prejudice is right or wrong is not the issue, it happens, so account for it.
Students can tell when the educator has prepared for class. Make sure lessons maintain a standard that shows thought and effort.
The Butterfly Effect: Some students are not going to take classes seriously regardless of how well the educator plans; however, many of the students who are serious about education will notice and this will diminish control, respect, and effort given by the class. If the educator does not care, the students will question why they should.
Return Work in a Timely Manner
Make sure that students receive homework or tests results in a timely manner. Some educators become busy during the semester and wait to do grading and assessments toward the end of the semester. If this is the case, students do not have an accurate gauge to understand how they are doing in class. It is in the educator’s best interest to return homework or tests the next class so students can constantly assess their standing and what they need to do.
The Butterfly Effect: Students should be motivated to do their best at all times, but this is rarely the case. By returning homework and tests on time the educator constantly assess students and can advise them on how to improve. When students are falling behind, this assessment or standing in class can motivate students to work harder. Also, at the end of the semester, the student cannot claim ignorance because they were provided every opportunity to correct their standing in class.
Play by the Rules
Here is the article discussing classroom rules.
A strategy educators can use is to explain why students are doing activities and how it will help them learn. Educators may explain the learning theory behind the activity, or tell in general terms how this will help learning.
The Butterfly Effect: Students will understand the educator has a plan, and even if they do not understand it, will trust the educator’s plan. This will eliminate the students questioning why they are doing something. Plus, it may impress certain students as they see the lesson was well thought out and the educator is passionate about their learning. It may increase participation.
The butterfly effect may not be felt immediately, but educators would be wise to realize that what we do, or do not do, builds and creates the classes we desire to some degree. The responsibility is not solely ours, but little things can eventually have a great influence on how students behave and perform in the classroom. It is important that educators form a list of rules so they can produce in a constant manner and students know what to expect from the class.
When I was twenty years old I had this conversation with a man who was like a mentor to me.
Me: “I’m thinking about joining the Marines.”
Mentor:”They will make a man out of you.”
Me: “Yeah, but I’m not good with discipline.”
Mentor:”Oh, they will teach you discipline.”
Me:”That’s the problem. I’m not sure I want to learn discipline (from them).”
Educators should be just like the Marines, not in ways of producing discipline, but in the way of having a protocol that is not deviated from as to provide a constant product to individuals who are looking for results. Make rules and set standards to maintain a constant environment for students to learn – be that butterfly wing that starts a hurricane of learning for the students.
Questions to Help Build Rules
1. What are some of the common problems you are having with class? Are you being a good role model in those areas?
2. What rules from above or other personal rules do you think are important for your teaching and classroom?