5 Rules to Break in the Classroom

September 22, 2019

As teachers we’re pretty amazing at creating rules. We have rules for just about everything. There are rules for how to behave, how to participate, how to get along, how to move, how to speak…well, you get my point. And it’s a good thing. Without rules and guidelines, a classroom and the children in it would go absolutely bonkers. However, as they say, “some rules are meant to be broken.” I’m here to suggest that it might be time to break some of our standard classroom rules and encourage our students to learn in new ways.

If you’re OK with breaking some rules (and being a bit of a rebel), here are just a few rules that you might want to break in your classroom...

Most of the time, it makes sense to have our students maintain an appropriate noise level. So, it’s no wonder that we have some rules about speaking quietly in the classroom. But, wouldn’t it be fun to break that rule? In fact, by encouraging loud voices, funny voices, and every voice in between, we can engage students in their learning a bit more.

Here are easy ways to break this rule...

➤ Create a jar full of silly voices. Pull them out when you want students to read out loud or share with the class. The voice challenges are an instant motivator. If you'd like a set of silly voice cards, just click here to grab them for FREE.

➤ Take the kids outside and let them shout about what they are learning. Can you imagine how many students would happily participate if they could shout out each letter in their spelling words or yell out vocab definitions?

➤ Don’t forget to try out some funny voices of your own. Leave behind that reserved-teacher voice and play around with voices during a classroom read aloud or during an everyday lesson.

More and more, teachers are breaking this rule. The flexible seating craze is definitely transforming classrooms. If you're like me, then you know that there are certainly times when students do need to find a seat to learn, but breaking this traditional rule can lead to some super fun lessons.

Here are easy ways to break this rule...

➤ Get students up and out of their seats with learning centers or stations. Have students rotate to different centers as they learn. (Check out my favorite learning stations HERE.)

➤ Play games to get students up and out of their seats. When games are combined with movement, students are more engaged and interested in learning. (Find free vocabulary games HERE.)

➤ Flexible seating options allow students to choose where they would like to sit. When students have flexible seating options, they can build community, collaborate, and feel more comfortable. Here are some of my favorite flexible seating ideas:

This rule is standard in most classrooms and schools. Since it can keep our classrooms and schools clean, it is an important one, too. However, sometimes it’s fun to bring out the bubblegum and amp up the fun-factor in the classroom.

Here are easy ways to break this rule...

➤ Hand out gum during standardized assessments. Did you know that studies show that chewing gum helps with concentration? According to Science Daily, chewing gum can help with focus and productivity. It's great to use for motivational test prep, too.

➤ Want to engage students in reading? Why not write a few reading passages about chewing gum. They’ll read a bit more eagerly if you promise gum while they work.

➤ Use chewing gum as a classroom motivator. Set a classroom goal like 90% class-wide homework completion for a week. Then, when students meet the goal, have a gum party. Bring out the gum and set up fun chewing gum stations. Stations could include tracking the biggest bubble, creating a new flavor of gum, writing stories about gum, and inventing new uses for chewing gum.

As a kid, many of my teachers enforced this rule. We weren’t allowed to doodle on our notes while we were learning. However, this may just be a rule worth breaking every single day. Studies show that doodling can help our students' brains stay active. Doodling also helps with memory recall while promoting creativity. So, it may be time to get rid of the "no doodling" rule for good!

Here are easy ways to break this rule...

 Teach a Doodle and Do unit that encourage students to doodle as they learn and while they practice their learning. (Check out all of the Doodle and Do units here.)

 Have students complete a homework assignment with doodles. You’ll be amazed at how excited students get about a doodle homework assignment.

 Let students doodle to show their learning. Wouldn’t it be fun to add a question on a test that students could answer with a doodle?

 Connect vocabulary to doodles. Give students a chance to deeply understand their vocabulary by moving beyond just learning the definition. Have them create doodles about the words to tap into their visual skills. (Here's a popular Doodle Vocabulary resource.)

For some reason, this rule gets followed a lot. Typically, teachers and students are expected to stay in their classrooms. While it makes sense a lot of the time, sometimes breaking this rule has a big payoff. In particular, a new setting can motivate, engage, and inspire students.

Here are easy ways to break this rule...

 The next time you need to give students notes or you want students to review information or even introduce a topic, create a set of facts. Then, hide them around the school for students to find. This fact hunt will get them out of the classroom and learning! (Find ready-made fact hunts here.)

 One of the most powerful places for students to learn is right outside our classrooms. When students need a change of pace, take the kids outside. It’s super fun to host a poetry reading or some book talks under a shady tree. Or, you might have students read on blankets under the sun.

 The cafeteria is a great place to use during the school day. Since there are many times that no one is in the space, it’s a perfect place to shake things up. Imagine setting up learning stations at the different tables or hosting literature circles with snacks in the cafeteria. The change of scenery makes the lesson instantly more fun.

 Organize a walking field trip around your school’s town…or better yet, have students organize the field trip. They could research different notable places around town. Then, as the class tours the town, different students can share what they’ve learned.


Something tells me that you might already break a lot of these rules. However, I hope that you’ve found a few ways to take your rebellious rule breaking a bit farther. I'd love to hear about some of the other rules you break in your classroom. Just leave your ideas in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by!
Mary Beth

P.S. Don't forget to grab your exclusive freebie of silly voice challenges HERE.

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