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How to Create A Classroom Culture - Part 2

By Jana’ Thomas, Scholastic Chess Instructor


Let’s continue with the second tip from the five-part series to help you create your classroom culture.  The ‘H’ from our acronym C.H.E.S.S. stands for:  


Have Ground Rules

Setting rules can be difficult for some people; however, rules or guidelines are an instrumental part of many cultures.  For anyone entering a new environment, knowing the Do’s and Dont’s can offer a clear perspective of how to exist and thrive there.  Your students deserve this. Furthermore, in my experience working with youth, if you do not establish ground rules early, you will open yourself up to the chaotic challenge of unlearning bad habits. Before you reach the point of no return, try to:


  • Create the Classroom Rules WITH Your Students.

This affirms that your students DO have a voice in your class that is respected and received, while taking some of the pressure off of you, the instructor.  It takes time to get to know your students; immediately imposing rigid rules on a class where it may be unnecessary, can leave some youth feeling belittled.


Also, students can be helpful in determining the classroom boundaries, if not for themselves, definitely for their classmates.  Peers can point you in the direction of complications you may face with other students because, unlike you, they have other classes with them.  


Listen and offer your suggestions, as well.  Allow your students to respond and discuss your suggestions.  Having an open dialogue will foster respect for you and communication with you.


It is important to use concise wording when creating the list of ground rules.  However, students are more apt to hold each other accountable if the rules are written in their own words.  Ultimately, having rules creates a foundation on which you and your students build a bond together.