Yes, in a perfect world, I would love for my kids to help come up with the rules, but it's just flat out not going to happen. The majority of my kiddos are non-verbal and all of them need a consistent and regular schedule. Instead of having the craziness of trying to develop goals as a group, we will discuss the rules the first day of school and talk about examples and non-examples of the rules. To further review the rules, we will use picture symbols to chart what behaviors for each rule look like. I like to follow a few simple steps when setting classroom expectations.
4 Easy Tips for Developing Classroom Rules:
1. Stick to 3-5 rules- Having too many rules will be hard to keep track of for you and the kiddos. Stick to 3-5 rules that are general enough to cover many scenarios and will carry over to all locations in the school (lunch room, PE, playground, etc).
2. Use kid friendly words- Don't use words like respect, responsibility, and cooperate! Instead, use shorter words that young students and kids with disabilities will understand and relate to.
3. Post the rules in your class and review them frequently- Posting rules is important so that students (and staff) can refer to the rules when needed. For example, if a kid is throwing toys, you can point to the rules and say, "One of our class rules is that we use our hands for helping. Will you help me pick the toys up?" You should also review the rules frequently with the kiddos, probably daily for the first few weeks of school.
4. Keep them in positive terms- Instead of a rule that says, "Don't say bad words" or "Don't hit your friends" say "We use nice words" or "We use our hands for helping." Kids don't hear the "don't," instead they just hear "say bad words" or "hit your friends." Keep it in positive terms of what you want the kid to do!
I made a banner with our classroom rules. I cut them out, laminated them, and attached them to a ribbon. You can download these for free here.