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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Managing Behaviour for Learning. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Most teachers have rules, but they reside either on a small piece of paper on the classroom wall or just simply in the mind of the teacher. Students very rarely find out what the rules are until they’ve transgressed. Let’s try something better. Let’s simplify the rules. Go for three. Make them absolutely clear, and sharpen the rules on the behaviors that you want to see. For older students, sharpen them on the learning attitudes that you want to see. Limit yourself to three rules. Avoid the use of the word “don’t” or “no,” as they have very little impact on student behavior.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds Instead, positively frame your rules for the behaviors that you want to see, and display them clearly on three walls in your teaching space.

Wording and framing rules

Who knows your rules?

Video summary

Sometimes students only get to know your rules when things go wrong and they hear them from you. They need to know the simple rules; those that support your routines and help you teach them how to treat you. Everybody wins.


Three simple rules

  1. Choose three simple rules for the classes you teach. Make sure you frame them positively and avoid the words ‘don’t’ and ‘no’. They should reflect what you want to see and hear.
  2. Share your rules via the comments below.
  3. Provide feedback on the rules posted by at least two other people.
  4. When you have spent time giving and receiving feedback, review your own three rules. You may well want to change them.

Examples of rules could be:

  • One voice at a time
  • Speak politely even if you are angry
  • Follow instructions first time, every time

Whenever you deliver a rule-reminder remember to phrase in the positive.

'David, I notice you are gazing out of the window. 
The rule is that we stay on task. 
I need you to pick up your pen and begin the task.' 
(Then walk away giving the student time to take up your request.)

Practise, practise, practise …


Three rules poster

You have been asked to create and share three rules that operate within your teaching space.

Now create a poster of your three rules to display in your teaching space.


We’ve created a Padlet Wall for you to share your Three Rules Poster. Padlet is a virtual pin-board and allows you to share text, images and other files. You do not need a Padlet account to post. We recommend you post images or upload PDF files (if you create your poster in another format, Save As… PDF to upload). Guidance on how to use Padlet.

STEM Learning may wish to include your poster in the video diary, as an exemplar for future courses or on the STEM Learning website. If you are happy for us to use your post in these ways, please indicate on your Padlet post with “I consent to STEM Learning sharing”. You are very welcome to put your name so we can attribute your work.

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Provide feedback

You will be able to comment on each others Padlet posts. Provide feedback or note which posters you would like to use in your classroom.

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This video is from the free online course:

Managing Behaviour for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre