Once you have a job, writing your rules and consequences is the most important thing on your to-do list. Take your time with this. Choose rules that are easy to understand yet are broad enough to cover many situations. Some of my rules are:
1. Enter and exit the room quietly (I share a classroom so this is VERY important to me)
2. Think before you speak and act. (This covers all bad behaviors)
3. Come in with a positive attitude.
Most of the books I read said you should write these with your students. I think that in a resource room and your first year, you should have them written and ready to go on the wall Day 1. Reveal the rules one by one and go over why each rule is important. Have the students practice each rule before going on to the next. I had my students sign the rules on the first day of school. Then I hung it up in a visible spot. If you spend a good portion of the first week on the rules (in depth the first day, review them the next few days), the students will follow them.
When you write consequences, make sure you pick things that you can stick to. If you are really against sending students to the principal – don’t use that as a consequence. Pick things that you are comfortable with. I like to use a visual system with my students. I use a color system – green is good, yellow is first warning, orange is miss 10 minutes of recess, red is all of recess and a letter or call home. Each student has a pencil name tag that is glued onto a clothes pin. Their pencil is clipped onto the color they are on. Everyone starts at green. As they break rules, they move to the next color. Make sure the rules and consequences are posted in the room.
Also have some sort of reward system in place. Even if it is as simple as “I’m going to randomly reward students who are following the rules.” I give out random tickets (like carnival tickets I found at orientaltrading.com). Students can earn a ticket for coming into the room quietly, helping a friend, following directions, using vocabulary words…anything! My prize bin is organized by the number of tickets things cost. They save their tickets in a zip-lock bag. Review the rules and consequences when students need reminders (especially after long breaks). Don’t forget to go over fire drill exits and procedures etc on the first day as well.