Robert Marzano and his team have undertaken meta-analysis related to effective classroom management techniques and have reported the findings in the book Classroom Management That Works. The statistical measure they use in reporting is the effect size, which reports change via standard deviation. When looking for high yield techniques related to classroom management, the effect size is reported as a negative number, indicating that the technique reduced the number of incidents. One of the most effective techniques – effect size of -.763 – is proper application of rules and procedures. What does this look like in classrooms? Marzano suggests that rules and procedures be developed for the following (pp. 18-26):
- General expectations for behavior. These rules and procedures govern the daily climate of the classroom and address generalized expectations for politeness, helpfulness, interruptions, interaction with peers or the teacher. Students should have clear guidelines for your classroom.
- Beginning and ending the class day or the period. Every classroom has a daily ebb and flow. Students need to know how to respond to attendance, order lunch, acknowledge birthdays or other special happenings, listen to the announcements, say the Pledge of Allegiance, hand in homework, put away supplies, and tidy their desks for departure. Clarity and consistency are the key.
- Transitions and interruptions. Classrooms are active places. Students should have clearly articulated procedures for lining up, exiting for the restroom or special classes, lunchtime, recess, and safety drills. These should be acknowledged and practiced day after day so they are automatic.
- Materials and equipment. Procedures should exist for how students distribute, collect, and store their materials for classroom use. Again, these procedures should be clearly understood and consistently practiced in order to be most effective.
- Group work. Students guidelines for how to move in and out of groups during group work. They need to have guidelines for how to interact in the group and how to behave when they are not in the group. The group needs guidelines regarding how to communicate with the teacher during work time. These guidelines should be shared and discussed frequently.
- Seat work and teacher-led activities. Teachers should articulate expectations for student attention and participation. They should also know the expectations for how to get help from the teacher or other students and how to behave once seat work has been completed.
Think about your classroom. Are your rules and procedures clearly articulated and practiced regularly? If not, think about how you can update and express them. You and your students will be glad you did!