There is no magic formula on what rules your classroom should have. Some teachers give an endless list of details “do’s and dont’s.” Some proudly display a generic laminated classroom rules sheet near the whiteboard. Which method is right? When teaching Islamic Studies, should the rules be more stringent? In due time, I will examine all different aspects of how to craft rules. But in this post, I will strictly examine the philosophy behind classroom/home rules and provide some insight and suggestions on how to make your classroom rules simple and comprehensive.
Minimal Positive Rules – Many educators and teachers have moved away from the “negative” language of rules. Instead, teachers now opt for “positive” language and reinforcement. In other words, rules should always avoid a negative framework. Instead of saying, “No talking,” teachers should rephrase it as, “Raise Your Hand Before You Speak.” I agree with this approach as well. From an Islamic perspective, one may find many narrations and verses documenting the prohibition of certain acts. But the number of these narrations and verses number far less in comparison to the number of verses commanding good. The same logic can be used in your classroom or home. As a rule of thumb, keep your rules to less than five and always use positive language to convey the message.
Broad Standards – Use the classroom rules’ system to instill broad understanding and application. In other words, avoid setting rules around specific “events,” or, “scenarios.” What this means is that teachers tend to formulate rules around specific infractions. This can include, “Stay in your chair,” or, “Respect the teacher.” The Quran could have easily said listed many prohibitions related to lascivious behavior. Instead, it uses broad guidelines to regulate human sexual activity. The Quran states, “And do not come close to extramarital intercourse,” (17:32). Hence, anything that can lead to immoral sexual behavior is prohibited. Moreover, because its scope is general, the onus is on the believer to think before doing anything immoral, “Would this lead to immorality? If yes, then it’s better to stay away from it.” Similarly, instead of saying, “Don’t come to class without pencils,” state, “Come Prepared.” This broad rule not only forces students to realize that they should bring their pencils, but that homework, books, supplies, and most importantly, mental preparation for class all fall under “come prepared.”
S – Sincerity – Be God Conscious so that Allah will teach you.
A – Attitude – Learning is possible with a positive attitude.
L – Love – Love yourself, peers, teachers, classroom and school.
A – Apply – Practice what you preach through self-application and discipline.
M – Management – Keep yourself organized manage all of your responsibilities.