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Having Students Govern Themselves Through Classroom Rules

An important part of growing up is learning to govern oneself. This is a skill that will serve your students well throughout their lives. And If your students learn to govern themselves with classroom rules, they’ll be better prepared to handle the challenges and responsibilities they’ll face in the future. But how can students govern themselves?

Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to explore in this blog post. We’ll look at the benefits of having students govern themselves with classroom rules. We’ll also consider some of the challenges you may face as a teacher when implementing this approach.


Having Students Govern Themselves Through Classroom Rules


Hype up the idea of classroom rules

2 kids in a spiderman and captain america costume

An important part of setting up rules in the classroom is getting students to buy into the idea. This can be tricky because let’s face it – rules can be boring. But there are ways to make the idea of rules more exciting for your students.

One way is by using superheroes as examples. You can talk about how even superheroes have rules they need to follow. For example, Spiderman enforces the rules by apprehending criminals. In turn, everybody loves Spiderman and he’s a better person because of it. Similarly, when students follow classroom rules, they help create an environment where everyone can learn and thrive.

If you can get your students to see the connection between rules and becoming their best selves, you’ll be well on your way to having them govern themselves.


Ask your students what kind of person and adult they’d like to become

Another way to get your students to buy into the idea of governing themselves is by asking them what kind of person they want to become when they grow up. This is a great way to start a conversation about the importance of self-control and responsibility.

When you ask your students what kind of adult they want to be, you’ll likely get a variety of answers. Some students might say they want to be heroic like Spiderman, while others might say they want to be kind and caring like their mothers. Still, others might say they want to be smart like their favorite teacher.

Keep tabs on these traits as the conversation progresses. These are the qualities that you want your students to associate with self-governance. As they talk about the kind of person they want to become, emphasize how following rules will help them reach their goals.


Brainstorm ideas for rules together and post them in the classroom

Once you’ve gotten your students on board with the idea of governing themselves, it’s time to start brainstorming some rules. This is a great opportunity to get their input and buy-in on the rules that will govern their behavior in the classroom.

You can start by asking your students what they think the most important rules are. Then, take their ideas and turn them into more specific rules. For example, if a student says that it’s important to be respectful, you can turn that into a rule that says, “We will use kind words and listening ears.”

Once you have a few rules, post them in the classroom where everyone can see them. Here’s a few ideas to help you out:

  • We will use kind words and listening ears.
  • We will raise our hands to speak.
  • We will keep our hands, feet, and objects to ourselves.
  • We will take care of our classroom and materials.


Let your students vote on the rules they think are most important

Now that you’ve brainstormed some rules together, it’s time to let your students vote on which ones they think are most important.

To do this, you can simply have them vote with their thumbs up or down on each rule. The rules with the most votes can then be posted as the classroom rules.

Then, the goal is not for you to enforce them, but for them to govern themselves. If a student notices another student breaking a rule, they can remind them of the rule and why it’s important. Your main role will then be to simply reinforce these positive behaviors. You can also hold occasional meetings to see how things are going and to make sure everyone is still on board with the rules.



Getting your students to govern themselves can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. When your students buy into the idea of self-governance, they’ll be more likely to follow the rules and become the best learners they can be. With a little effort, you’ll be well on your way to having your students govern themselves fast!

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