This strategy supports teachers to build a process to gradually give more voice to students throughout the year in designing class rules and procedures, or in improving them. Involving students in this process can be transformational; it can make students more invested in their learning environment and path, it can help them realize that they have a voice to provide feedback and offer constructive ideas, and it can help students see that their teacher is willing to listen to their suggestions and implement them.
This strategy can support students at any grade level and in any content area. It provides teachers with a gradual process and a system of checks and balance that can help them feel more comfortable stretching themselves toward a more student centered approach to classroom culture.
Whether students are distance learning experts or engaging in distance learning for the first time, creating and revisiting the rules and procedures is vitally important so that all members of the classroom community understand the expectations.
Hold a digital forum to discuss the rules and procedures for distance learning. Be sure to give each student a voice in this discussion. Come to this discussion prepared with your own ideas for rules and procedures, but be willing to listen to your students' ideas for how they will learn best.
To modify this step for asynchronous learning, consider using a tool such as Padlet, Jamboard, or Google Forms to collect students' thoughts.
After gathering student input, create a digital visual that can be shared with the class. Programs like Padlet, Google Slides, and Jamboard allow you to create visuals that can be easily shared.
Revisit rules and procedures at least once each week. At the end of each synchronous class period, ask students to reflect on whether they feel the rules and procedures were followed.
To modify this step for asynchronous learning, consider using a Google Form or PollEverywhere survey for students to reflect on how the class rules and procedures have been followed on a consistent basis, and to see if they need revision or to be revisited.
Share feedback with students on a frequent basis. If you are using a tool to collect feedback, such as PollEverywhere or Google Forms, share trends with students. Take time to re-evaluate rules and procedures if student feedback indicates that they are having difficulty sticking to the shared agreement.
For students with disabilities that impact their ability to meet classroom expectations, it is particularly important to ensure that a) all IEP accommodations are in place and b) that student growth towards their IEP goals is recognized with positive reinforcement.
For students who struggle with transitions or procedures, providing visual references with reminders of what to do can help them navigate difficult moments. For example, you might add a "What to have on your desk at the start of class" anchor chart or a "What to do when you’re stuck" anchor chart. Or consider exploring the "Y Chart" strategy in the BetterLesson lab to teach students to focus on what their actions or the tasks they are engaging in should look like and sound like.
For students who are learning English, use images as cues for your written class procedure reference materials. For example, include a picture of a pencil next to instructions about what writing utensil students need, or include an image to represent the meaning of a key vocabulary term.
Consider your level of readiness and comfort with classroom management to determine if you are ready to start with this on day one. If you don’t feel ready yet, it is better to delay the start of this process a bit. It could the first time you do a certain type of activities later in the Fall, or at the beginning of the 2nd semester.
To learn more about empowering students to design and improve classroom culture, explore the Classroom Management Reconsidered strategy in the BetterLesson Lab.
GoogleForms is a tool that helps teachers generate online surveys and quizzes.
This tool supports this strategy because teachers can use it to create one generic form and send it regularly to students for feedback. This tool can preserve students' anonymity when giving feedback. It also organizes the data into a spreadsheet that will save teachers time.
Padlet supports teachers to create a digital poster board where all students can share ideas in the form of text, pictures, or videos.
This tool supports this strategy because teachers can use to to create one generic anonymous feedback bulletin board for the development or improvement of class rules or procedures. It is different from Google Forms as it allows the whole class to see all suggestions.