The Rule

The Mrs. Hays recently brought up the subject of her need to develop a set of rules for her new classroom. I suggested, “Mrs. Hays is the Queen of this Classroom; diligently follow every word that flows from her mouth.”

She said that my suggestion was not really a classroom rule, it actually is a universal law. What she needed, she said, was a simple set of rules like the set of “No” rules you find at the swimming pool. No running, no rough-housing, no sitting on shoulders, no diving, etc. and so on. My train of thought and immediate interest in the subject waned with the memories of the hours upon hours of the young me sitting on hot pool decks kept prisoner from my friends and the refreshing, cool water by over-zealous lifeguards and their “No” rules.

With my husbandly duty of suggesting rules to the wife successfully completed, my mind drifted away to behavior rules I’ve run across or used in coaching sports. One of my favorites from my personal stable of behavior rules is this concise, to-the-point, original Coach Hays rule:

“Nothing you do on the field of play can make up for acting like a piece of crap off the field.”

Another one I like, which may or may not be a Coach Dail Smith-ism, is this one on keeping a well-ordered locker room or team bus:

“Your mother is not here, so pick up after your own self.”

But my all-time favorite rule on behavior came from the late Coach Melvin Cales. I lived with Melvin’s son, Monty, in college. As luck would have it, the college happened to reside in the same town as Monty’s grandmother. Melvin and his wife would often drive down and visit his mother on Sundays and then stop by our place on the way out of town. After the visit, Melvin would stop at the door and say to Monty. “Behave yourself.” Then he’d add the one line on behavior which I have repeated hundreds of times over the years to my own self, to athletes and most importantly, to my own children:

“Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read about in the paper.”

So there you have it Mrs. Hays, a rule for your students and, indeed, a great rule for life. Smart, sage, and simple advice from a smart, sage, and simple man.

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10 Comments

Filed under Rants, Reads, Writes

10 responses to “The Rule

  1. Cute post. I teach college lit, and one rule I have, is no sleeping in class! Sometimes my students have a 6-hour drawing class before my lit class (I’m not kidding–it;s an art college). But if they start to doze, I’ve been known to make them do jumping jacks, or go get coffee.

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  2. LOL. Great rules. I especially like the one about not doing anything you don’t want your grandmother to read about. I’ll tell my grandchildren that one.

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  3. lexacain

    What a fun post, Mike. I didn’t know there was a sports rule for everything–and they’re so true. 🙂

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  4. LOL, what a fun post and pretty practical. Love the one about your mother is not here to pick up after you. My kids need to be reminded of that

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  5. One of my high school teachers used to refer to his classroom as a ‘benevolent dictatorship’. There was no ambiguity about who was in charge there.

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