Everyone Has Rules

Rules in the Special Ed classroom are equally as important as in any regular setting. Do you use rules? Perhaps your not sure what to use or how to use them? Would you like to see how I incorporate them? Read on to find out and download a FREEBIE of my poster.

I don’t use rules because …

Some teachers don’t use rules as they believe their students don’t understand the concept. While it is true that some kids in every group will not grasp group rules, some will. I can guarantee you that for the ones that do understand the rules, having them and referring to them will make a huge difference in setting up a positive behaviour classroom space.

How many should I use?

How many rules you include depends on your students. Typically children with more significant needs require less than mainstream. Therefore three or four is ample. If we include more than that it is too difficult for the kids to be successful.

What rules should I include?

We need to consider safety first of all. What are your priorities? You know your students. What are they likely to do to harm another or themselves and what are some rules you can apply.

Next, I consider what students may need to learn to help them follow instructions. Then I think about a social rule to support the students. Most of mine have IEP goals related to waiting, sharing and taking turns.

Lastly I am big on teaching communication so I like to use one about ‘talking’. This goal is general enough to include my one talker in the group who is producing short sentences and some words we don’t want to hear (if you get my meaning!)

My current rules

  • Stop Look Listen Do
  • Keep hands, mouth and feet to yourself
  • Share and take turns
  • Good Talking
Photo showing class rules poster. The poster is using Boardmaker symbols for the rules.

Introducing the rules

During the first four weeks of the year we focus on rules, structure and routines. I introduce all rules from the beginning but we explicitly teach one set as a focus for the week. We read social stories, play basic games, set up art, music and sensory experiences, sabotage and emphasise throughout the day.

The poster has picture symbols on it to support understanding. They are the same as on our school communication boards. All adults model on their boards and I model on one blown up on the IWB. To read more about modeling please check out this post. As the year progresses students point to symbols either on their own boards or devices, or on an adults one.

Reward

Catch them being good (even if they are attempting to follow the rule) and reward like crazy. We fade the frequency of rewards after the first four weeks. Remember to include those kids who are not quite developmentally there yet. The ones who are understanding need to see that the rules and rewards apply to everyone. Consistency and immediacy by all staff is the key.

Ongoing use of the poster

I sing the rules every morning during circle time before we transition to TEACCH (or box work) tasks. I have the symbol scheduled on both our whole class schedule and on individual schedules for those who have them. All support assistants, therapists or whoever else is in the room stop and join in with the song. Sing loud and sing proud. The singing helps to keep the attention of the students. The tune is to ‘She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain’. The poster is then referred to throughout the day as a reminder to prevent unwanted behaviour or, to show what the students are doing correctly. I send a copy to all parents so they also can follow up at home for consistency.

Freebie Poster

Feel free to download my poster. I have included the exact words in the song that I sing so it will give you one option to get you started. Alternatively you may choose to utilise the poster as a starting point and design one using the symbols you use. Then consider a song to suit your students’ needs and ages. A rap would be great with older kids. For further consideration on implementation here is an article to view.

Sing loud and sing proud.

Aroha, Ann

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