Rules for class: The only 2 you need

In ESL training, one of the things I remember the guy saying, one of the things that stood out for me since I’d already been teaching for a few weeks, was his advice for class rules.

  1. Don’t be rude.
  2. Don’t be lazy.

He said to stick to just those two. Write them on the board. Have the students write them in the front of their books. They cover everything.

  • Someone’s speaking Korean in class? Ask what rule #1 is. “That’s right. Don’t be rude. Everyone else is trying to learn English here.”
  • Someone keeps responding with one word answers? Ask what rule #2 is. “That’s right. Don’t be lazy. Use complete sentences.”
  • Someone’s talking while a student is giving a presentation? Ask what rule #1 is. “That’s right. Don’t be rude. Be quiet while your classmates are presenting.”
  • Someone doesn’t want to work on the class writing project? Ask what rule #2 is. “That’s right. Don’t be lazy. Write the best essay you can.”
  • Someone’s blurting out answers instead of responding in turn? Ask about rule #1. “That’s right. Don’t be rude. Wait your turn.”

You get the idea.

Ultimately, you can boil every correction down to one of these two rules. So instead of having this ridiculously long list, the way some teachers do, and continually adding to the list as more problems come up, you can stick with these two rules and refer everything back to them.

As a teacher, you’ll eventually get the students to be your police. Give them some kind of incentive, even just recognition of a job well done, and they’ll tell you when other students break the rules.

That’s when the class starts flowing well.

By the way, after I typed up the title for this post,  I realized these two rules apply to the other kind of class too, the classy kind: don’t be lazy, don’t be rude.