Classroom Expectations

How To Make Students Succeed: Classroom Expectations and Rules

alt="young blond caucasian boy with hands covered in green paint and paintbrush in his mouth with words Eleven Important Examples of Classroom Expectations for an Engaged Classroom on the photo to preface a discussion on the examples of classroom expectations."

Are you able to stand, just stand, quietly at the front of the classroom waiting for and receiving your students’ attention? If your answer is yes, well done! If your answer is no, let’s change that by establishing classroom expectations and rules.

View the video version of this blog post here.

Why Are Classroom Expectations and Rules Important?

Expectations that are appropriately reinforced, provide a safe place for everyone to learn. They also create a more efficient and effective learning environment. Therefore, they are an essential part of effective classroom management.

If you ask your students, “Why are classroom expectations and rules important?” 

They will provide valuable insights like:

  • So we don’t hit each other
  • So we don’t shout
  • No interrupting

They know that these actions upset them when personally experienced, and they can connect with them.

alt="steel blue background, text overlay asking why are fules and expectations important, bottom third has a picture of the top of a teachers desk with books and an apple on top of it sitting in front of a blackboard with more overlay reading, exptectations are the first big step in removing the chaos at the bottom is a CTA to read more or save for later and the web address, this image is designed to lead the reader to consider examples of classroom expectations"
All students are coming from different expectations at home, and classroom expectations provides them with a common set of expectations that provides stability for both the teacher and the student.

alt=”cream background, with text overlay, why classroom rules are important, in the middle is an image of rainbow coloured paper gingerbread men in a circle with the word success in the middle , and below that is the CTA Read more or save for later with the web address.”
Success occurs when students realize that they aren’t following your rules, but, in fact, you are just the person in charge whose job it is to follow through on their expectations. That changes the teacher from a boss to a helper.

Where Do Classroom Expectations and Rules Come From?

Classroom expectations and rules are best created in community with your students. 

Every year I created classroom expectations and rules with my students. And every year I ended up having the same set of classroom expectations and rules. 

But how is that possible?

As we developed classroom expectations and rules I led them towards essential expectations with questions like:

  • “How do we stop others from hurting us?”
  •  “Are there any suggestions for expectations during games?”

Now we connect them with the power of positive language.

alt=”sage green background, top third contains strip of ripped paper with text overlay, where do classroom expectations come from, bottom third has a picture of two smiling young boys giving the thumbs up, and below that is the CTA Read more or save for later with the web address. This image is designed to have teachers consider examples of classroom expectations."
Honouring the importance of their voice and ideas in the classroom from the very beginning sets a solid foundation for classroom community.

Model Positive Language to Establish the Tone for Your Classroom 

As I ask the students for classroom expectations and rules we might share together, I respond to negative statements (like “don’t hit”) with positive expectations (like “keep hands to self”).

I do this because there is  power in positive language. 

To help you to understand this, here’s a simple activity:

1. Set a timer for 30 seconds.

2. Try not to think about a purple elephant for the entire 30 seconds. 

Did you find yourself doing a lot of work keeping that purple elephant out of your mind? 

That is because our brain holds onto what we focus on. If I changed it to, “Think about an orange dog.” you would do that, and it would take way less energy and stress. This demonstrates the power of positive language in guiding behaviour.

Refocusing our attention from “don’t hit” to “keep hands to self” focuses on positive action. 

Neuroscientists have proven that repetition and practice create automaticity in behaviors. 

Affirmations and positive expectations work in ways that negative language does not.

Creating Social Awareness About Shared Expectations

Discuss classroom expectations and rules. “Why don’t we run in the halls?” to encourage them to think about noise levels and safety, creating social awareness.. 

This process makes expectations relatable which, in turn, helps to motivate your students to comply with expectations.

Sample Classroom Expectations and Rules

Every teacher and classroom is unique, however, here are my basics because they are specific enough to have meaning, and they are general enough to prevent arguments:

  • Share
  • Hands to self
  • Respect everyone
  • Take turns
  • Raise hands 
  • Wait to be called upon 
  • Listen to others
  • Use inside voices
  • Walk in the school
  • Do your job
alt=”cream background with leaf motifs in the corners, and text overlay containing list of classroom expectations examples: sharing, hands to self, respectful, taking turns, hands up to speak, listening to others, sharing our ideas, inside voices, walking in the school, doing our job, clean your mess. Bottom third has a picture of _ and below that is the CTA Read more or save for later with the web address. This image is designed to provide teachers with examples of classroom expectations”
Once the expectations are established, then they become a “contract” between you rather than rules they have to follow.

Creating Acceptance for the Expectations

After finalizing the list of expectations, I poll the class for consensus. 

Acknowledge students who express concerns about their ability to meet expectations.

Emphasize that doing their best is different from being perfect. This approach builds a supportive environment where making mistakes is part of learning.

You may have students who do not want to commit to the classroom expectations and rules.  

Address any disagreements about the expectations thoughtfully, indicating that the student’s input is valued while maintaining necessary boundaries. 

After a brief chat, share that further discussion will happen at recess.

Your students  may truly come from an environment that would make these boundaries seem ridiculous.

Once agreed upon, display the classroom expectations and rules prominently. 

Implementing Expectations

The students cannot truly understand your expectations if you have not taught them your expectations.

Take opportunities for students to model the behaviours you want:

  • Have a student demonstrate the correct behaviour
  • Allow a different student to model the incorrect behaviour
  • Finally, have another student to model the correct behaviour again.

At the beginning of the year, consistently review the classroom expectations and rules. For example, review the expectations for lining up just before you send them to line up.

Taper off gradually.

alt=”cream background, with text overlay, approach to sutdent success: cultivating emotional intelligence in the middle, bottom third has a garden motive in green and yellow, and below that is the CTA Read more or save for later with the web address. This image is designed for teachers to consider examples of classroom expectations and their impact on student growth."
We do need to actually teach our students to be aware of and considerate of each other. The first step is gently teaching them that their choices impact others.
alt="sage green background, leaf motif top corners, text overlay positve reinforcement - students' engagement, middle third has a man with a bullhorn directed towards two young boys with the caption, posivitve reinforcments keep students focused on what matters, bottom third contains the CTA read more or save later, and web address this image is designed to support the understanding of positive reinforcement of examples of classroom expectations"
Modelling positive language from the outset creates a safe environment for the students, builds their relationship with you, and then positively impacts the classroom community.

How to Reinforce Classroom Expectations and Rules

Positive language is your most powerful tool for reinforcing expectations. 

Remember that automaticity I mentioned earlier. That is what you are supporting with affirmations::

  • “Excellent listening, putting your binder away quickly.”
  • “Good remembering to put your outside clothes where they belong.”
  • “Thank you for getting to work quickly.” 

Occasionally, you will have a student, or two, who needs a little bit more. 

Remind them that they have a job to do, their only choice is whether to do it now or at recess.  

Or if they are being goofy, give them a choice between classroom expectations or practicing the same skill in a less engaging way.

Then support their choice, even if it means you both miss recess.

Mostly, remember to be calm and patient. 

alt=”sage green background, with text overlay on the top third reading consider the benefits of anchor charts in the classroom, the middle third has a waterside image in the background with the thumbnail for a resource of printable anchor charts in the foreground,  and the bottom third has a picture of _ and below that is the CTA Read more or save for later with the web address.”
Students have multiple contexts in their lives, and each one has different expectations. Classroom anchor charts are strong visual supports that remove student stress as. Find them in my store by following this link here.

Learn more about my classroom expectation anchor charts here.

Establish Your Year with Effective Classroom Expectations

Establishing classroom expectations and rules is essential for classroom management and creating a healthy classroom community.

Building your classroom expectations together is the beginning of building your classroom community.

Teaching the classroom expectations and rules removes stress for students who truly don’t get it.

Reinforcing your classroom expectations and rules communicates to all of your students that they are safe to learn.

green background, text overlay reads Download the FREE classroom management checklist here. Images of the pages of the checklist.

You may also like...

Skip to content