This incident made me think about the hidden rules of our classrooms. Sure ,we post rules and expectations, short and to the point, on our walls and expect our students to agree to follow them. What we don’t post though, are our hidden rules and expectation, the terms and conditions if you will, for being in our classroom. And those tend to be the most important rules.
I have pet peeves I call them, they include sharpening your pencil while someone is talking (me), waving your hand in someone’s (my) face to get attention, interrupting someone (me), not cleaning up after yourself, and not taking responsibility for missed/late work. I try to divulge these in the first few days of school and yet there are always some that I miss. Every year, I end up being internally disappointed by the actions of a student who really had no way of knowing that taking off their shoes really bothers me (it is unsanitary).
So, at the end of this year I asked my students to write about what they wish they had known at the beginning of the year. Much to my surprise, Mrs. Ripp’s pet peeves came out on top. Wow! I had no idea that this was something important in the eyes of my students. So this year, I am going to be honest. Yes, I hate when you sharpen your pencil (switching away from electric pencil sharpeners because of this), I hate when you spin your ruler on your pencil (don’t poke your eye out), when you put your head down on your desk (are you sleeping?), and when you don’t tell me you haven’t done your homework and I have to find out. But no one knows that unelss I tell them and then they can sign up to learn in my classroom knowing all the terms and conditions, not just the ones in bold on the first page.