It seems that the most trendy, popular method for setting classroom rules nowadays is for the students and teacher to have a discussion where they co-create a list of rules to be followed.
I propose we back up a step. Why do we need to have rules in the first place?
Begin by asking your students, “What are your goals, hopes, and dreams for this school year? What would a successful school year look like for you?” Your students’ responses will be amazingly varied: making lots of friends, becoming a better writer, getting a good report card, making the school play, learning to like math, overcoming shyness, and so on.
Once you’ve talked about those goals, the next logical step is to ask your students, “What do we as a class need to be like to make these goals come true?” Then, get even more specific: “What is your job as a student to help make this happen? What is my job as the teacher?”
Voila! You’ve just set the stage for a great conversation about classroom expectations without making those expectations sound like a bunch of stifling rules that you’ve set up just to make your students’ lives miserable.