class rules: a reader's theatre

I am enjoying reading all the posts about teachers setting up their classrooms and getting ready for the new school year.  ('specially since I have another month of summer holiday)

A lot of blogs are posting about Whole Brain Teaching.  I ran across it a couple of years ago, and have incorporated some strategies into my classroom.

But there are some things that just don't sit right with me.

Humour me ....

setting the scene
source: Hub Pages

after school one day a couple of weeks after school has started for the year

a parent (Mrs. Jones)  has asked to have a meeting with the teacher, Ms Smith, about her daughter Amanda (all names are products of my limited imagination and do not refer to real people)

they chat pleasantly for a few minutes about how much Amanda is enjoying school, that she is adjusting well to new routines and is getting along well with her classmates.

Mrs. Jones:  Amanda has been showing me your class rules at home.  She has learned them really well - actions and everything.

Ms. Smith:  The kids really do seem to be learning our class rules well. We say them as a class a couple of times a day, and everyone gets turns to be the class leader.

Mrs. Jones:  I'm wondering if these rules are something that you thought up, or are they from some program or something like that?

Ms. Smith:  They actually come from a way of teaching that I am really excited about - Whole Brain Teaching.  It's a way of teaching that engages students by teaching the way that the brain works best while incorporating a behaviour management system.

Mrs. Jones:  Tell me about these rules that Amanda keeps showing me actions for.

Ms. Smith:  Well, there are five rules.
1. Follow directions quickly.
2. Raise your hand to speak.
3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
4. Make smart choices.
5. Keep your dear teacher happy.

Mrs. Jones:  I really like the "make smart choices" one.

Ms. Smith:  Yes, that's a good one, but the one that is nuclear power is the fifth rule - "keep your dear teacher happy".  There are no loop holes in that one, because I know what kind of behaviour makes me happy.

Mrs. Jone:  Mmmmm.  But is is really my child's job to make you happy.

Ms. Smith: I really want to be the best teacher that I can be for this class.  The happier I am, the better teacher I can be.

Mrs. Jones:  I am afraid that I still do not see that your happiness is Amanda's responsibility.  I want Amanda to learn what's right and wrong, to be a respectful and responsible member of a community, and to base her actions on that, not what someone says will make them happy.  I want her to think for herself and to make smart choices.

Ms. Smith:  Oh, Amanda is making very smart choices ...

Mrs. Jones:  I want Amanda to be responsible for her own happiness, not for anyone else's.  I have been thinking about this, and I want to give you some scenarios.  Amanda's friend Francine says that it will make her happy if Amanda gives her the treat that is packed in her lunch for dessert.

Ms. Smith: But it's not Amanda's job to make Francine happy.

Mrs. Jones:  When she is a teenager, Amanda may well have a boyfriend.  He may well say to her, "It will make me happy if you x, y and z".  Not her job to make him happy.

Ms Smith:  I am sure that Amanda will know her own mind ...

Mrs. Jones:  And this scenario is something that I hope would never happen, but we know that it has, and does,  And this is no reflection at all on you.  What if you are away one day, and there is a substitute teacher.  This teacher tells Amanda that it will make him happy if she stays inside at recess and sits on his lap while they read a story together.

Rule number 5 is nuclear power.  Never been a fan of nuclear weapons.  The potential for destruction is just too great.

my two cents

ps  on a lighter note - go hang out with Pete - he's having a party.


  1. Very thought provoking post and I must say I agree to some extent. Our school uses the WBT rules but I've never really thought about it like this. However, I've not really focused on rule number 5 a great deal with my kiddos. I've usually said that if they are following the other rules then I will be very happy and left it at that. I've been known to tweak the WBT rules anyway due to the fact there is so much movement in my class I do not make them raise their hand to get out of their seat. You've given me lots to think about before the start of the school year. Enjoy the rest of your break! =-)

    The Daily Cupcake…A Kindergarten Blog

    1. thanks Bobbie
      I am enjoying our summer sunshine : )


  2. I love that you brought this up. I was questioning that same thing, along with some of the other rules. I love the idea of teaching with the whole brain in mind, but making your dear teacher happy may not be the wisest rule invented. Thank you for addressing this in such a tactful and polite manner. I was thinking about making my own rules, but using the WBT practice to teach the rules, if you know what I mean!

    Miss A's Kindergarten

    1. I know exactly what you mean Sarah. We practice our own rules with WBT strategies.


  3. Sandi, Thanks for this really thought provoking post. I tried a variation of whole brain teaching rules a couple years ago and rule #5 always made me uncomfortable. I like the language Sally from Fairydust Teaching uses with her safe pocket system much more. I think that talking about general values (be helpful, be careful, be respectful) still allows the teacher a great deal of flexibility in addressing specific situations as they arise.
    Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales

    1. I will have to go and check out what Sally does - thanks for the tip. My classroom rules are about general values - it seems to work.


  4. Very tactful way of putting it. I, too, have read a lot about whole brain teaching this summer and that rule would make me uncomfortable.

    Lovin’ Kindergarten

  5. Sandi,Thank you for this post. It is something for all of us to think about!!
    An Open Door

  6. I totally agree with you Sandi. That is one of the WBT rules that just did not sit right with me, although I could never put my finger on exactly what made me feel that way. I think your post is very thought provoking and I wonder if any WBT have ever faced similar questions about the rules. I think it is perfectly fine to take the things that work from WBT and leave the rest alone. I think that's what we do in most areas of our teaching....we do what works and forget about the rest!!

    Debbie :-)
    K is for Kinderrific

  7. I agree, I have always had a problem with rule number 5, and "dear teacher" really?!? I love the way you presented this, perfect! Thanks.

  8. I've been looking into WBT this summer, and I have worried over that last rule. It is nice though, that the website says you can makes the rules your own to suit you. Might work for some, might not work for others. The part you said about the boyfriend really hit home for me. You are right- many of us are already people pleasers, and I fall for this "make me happy" line in my adult life, and it has been crippling many a time. I'm glad I read this post- I feel much more confident now in changing up the rules to suit me, and be better for the sake of my students.
    The Meek Moose

  9. Awesome post, Sandi. The same thing has been on my mind. I love how you addressed it!

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers

  10. I was just searching for the book you wrote about: Happy. I bought it at your recommendation and totally love it. So I came back to your blog to read what you wrote about it and see if I could use it for a beginning of the year kind of activity. Then I found this post about Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy. How did I miss this one?! I hate this rule. It's so creepy to me. You can't make me happy. I have to do that all by myself. The sooner we learn that, the better. Thank you.



Back to Top