Should Teachers Make Their Own Rules?

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STORY AND PHOTO BY PATRICIA TINDLE

In my Algebra II class there is a rule that in order to be counted as on time, students must be sitting and starting on their work as soon as they enter class or they will be counted tardy. About 40% of our class is tardy on a regular basis. This rule is only used in our Algebra class. Is it fair and purposeful or unfair to students? Some of my peers and I believe teachers shouldn’t be allowed to do this. I did some digging and found that some rules are created to benefit students and actually keep a productive environment going, while other rules aren’t at all helpful to students.

11th grader Rydia Wright stated, “There are some rules that aren’t fair—one being during our 5-minute transition from class-to-class. Teachers expect us to be starting on our “First Five” during transition. I don’t think that’s fair, because our transition and first five are two separate things. Something that should take ten-minutes is expected to be done in five.”

Should this be considered  a “rule”? Well, students should be using that time to get to their classes, use the bathroom or do whatever needs to be done. So teachers can’t complain if we interrupt them to use the bathroom during their class period”.

I asked a group of tenth graders if they could give me an example of one of “the rules”. “ Sometimes in our class a bunch of kids start to talk and laugh while we’re taking notes. If our teacher sees this she will call the loudest one out and give them a detention instead of giving them a warning”.

I decided to ask a teacher about why she decided to make her own rules and what kind of response she gets. Math teacher Ms. Burgener responded, “I will sometimes give out merits and demerits instead of going straight to the behavior ladder because it takes up less time. Also sometimes students would lash out at me and become very defensive when I gave them warnings. So I do this to prevent unnecessary commotion.”

After the interviews, I concluded that I still have a sound argument. Yet my mind is open to the idea that teachers creating their own rules may be a good thing. I’d like to propose that teachers conference with students about creating better rules. And that students speak up in a more mature manner about what they think is unfair. Then teachers might see our point of view. Now I would like to see how the readers feel. You can comment below in the comment box or vote in the poll box.

Patricia Tindle is a junior at Friendship Tech Prep Academy.   

Poll
Do you think teachers should make their own rules?