Design Question 6: What will I do to establish or maintain classroom rules and procedures?

Design Question 6, one of the strategies for Lesson Segment Enacted on the Spot, “deals with a staple of classroom management—the design and implementation of classroom rules and procedures. Regardless of how well behaved students in a given class may be, they still need rules and procedures” (Marzano, 2007, p. 117).

Research on highly effective teachers has shown that setting rules and procedures at the beginning of the school year is the most appropriate time. But first-year teachers spend little time doing so. Newer teachers may not be aware how effective this strategy is. But whether you’re a new teacher or an old hand, it’s crucial to develop the routines and procedures that so that your students can focus on content. The research shows that issues with classroom management are one of the main reasons approximately 20 percent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. In simpler terms, beginning teachers are often not yet “with it.”

With-it-ness is a pedagogical term that describes a teacher’s continual awareness of all that is going on in the classroom at all times. It’s a common saying that “Teachers have to have eyes in the back of their heads!” Teacher withitness is about making sure students follow rules and procedures; it requires you to be quickly aware—or proactive—when students do not meet those expectations. It is about curtailing misbehavior, of being aware of hot spots, of monitoring combinations of students that might spell trouble, and noticing any undercurrents that might boil over.

Developing withitness is fairly simple, but it demands a lot of your time and energy. When demonstrated well, it is invisibly seamless but ever-present. A teacher who is both experienced and skilled at classroom management uses withitness naturally, and to the observer, it may look like “All is going well—there’s no need for monitoring.” But if all, or most, students are following the rules and procedures, it is likely because the teacher is really “with-it”! Students will know if you are constantly scanning the class, walking around the room, and taking action in a proactive, controlled way. Any thoughts of misbehavior are nipped in the bud.

There are two elements in Design Question 6 that can help you with withitness:

4. Establishing Classroom Routines

5. Organizing the Physical Layout of the Classroom

There are also important generalizations to help you successfully implement classroom rules and procedures.

  • Although rules and procedures should be established at the beginning of the school year, students need reminders of when rules and procedures must be added or altered.• Rules establish general expectations or standards regarding student behavior.
  • The utility of rules and procedures is enhanced if students have input into their design, especially if the teacher facilitates periodic discussions via classroom meetings. (Marzano & Brown, 2009, pp. 211 – 212)

And there are action steps, as well as several areas of focus, that help maintain a well ordered classroom. After all, you want your students’ attention focused on your daily content—not misbehavior!

Action Step 1. Organize the Classroom for Effective Teaching and Learning

  • Access to Learning Centers, Technology, and EquipmentDecorating the Room
  • Students’ Desks and Chairs and the Teacher’s Work Area

Action Step 2. Establish a Small Set of Rules and Procedures

  • Use of Materials and Equipment
  • Group Work
  • Seatwork and Teacher-Led Activities

Action Step 3. Interact with Students about Classroom Rules and Procedures

Action Step 4. Periodically Review Rules and Procedures

Action Step 5. Use Classroom Meetings

Perhaps the best way to understand how well-established and monitored rules and procedures curtail disruptive behavior is to look at the effect size in a review of 100 studies.

Marzano (2003) estimated that establishing rules and procedures had an effect size of -0.76, which translates to a 28 percentile point decrease in student misbehavior! And a decrease in student misbehavior means more time on task, which leads to more time spent with content.

Want to find out more about how Design Question 6 will help you and your students succeed? Want to meet Connie West, Twila Patten, and Dr. Marzano in person, so you can pick their brains? We have two big events coming your way this summer: our regional Common Core conferences, Beyond the Basics, and our big international Marzano conference, Building Expertise. We hope to see you there!


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