In a previous post, we talked about how to create classroom rules with student input at the beginning of the year. Now may be a good time for a refresher on classroom expectations—and once again, collaboration and accountability remain essential.

The following are some strategies you can use to ensure students understand expectations, know exactly how to follow them, and feel ownership over the rules they helped create.

Model the behavior you want to see

1.) Name a specific classroom expectation and discuss its purpose as a class.

Example: The teacher points out the classroom rule about being considerate of others’ feelings, asking students why this rule is important and how it might come up in class.

One of the situations that students identify is listening attentively when someone else is talking so everyone can hear what they have to say.

2.) Act out a situation where that expectation comes into play, and explicitly model the correct behavior for your students.

Example: A student volunteers to help act out the situation, and the teacher asks him to share a story about his weekend or tell the class about his favorite movie.

The teacher pretends to be another student, listening attentively to his story, and raises her hand at the end to comment.

3.) Ask students for input on what they notice and what the impact of the behavior might be.

Example: The rest of the class shares what they noticed; e.g. the teacher kept eye contact with the speaker, didn’t fidget or play with items on her desk, stayed quiet so everyone could hear the story, and waited to be called on before speaking.

The students noted that being an attentive listener can help others feel valued and respected.

Have students practice

An integral part of learning any new skill is practice. Concrete, hands-on activities that engage students and give them the opportunity to practice appropriate behaviors are essential.

After completing the modeling portion of the exercise, have students practice the same behaviors themselves.

Roleplaying is extremely effective for exploring different real-life scenarios and giving students a chance to practice making responsible choices. However, it’s important to facilitate these activities carefully and provide plenty of guidance along the way.

Self-reflection and feedback from peers is a great way to reinforce learning as well. You can even set aside some time during regular lessons to have students practice conscientiously following classroom expectations.

Take the opportunity to explicitly rehearse everyday classroom procedures—such as entering the room in the morning, transitioning between activities, dismissal, and minor procedures like sharpening pencils, writing names on work, and turning in assignments. Doing so will make these activities routine and second nature for students.

Reinforce and celebrate successes

Students love to be recognized for their efforts and accomplishments!

Reinforce expectations by identifying when individual students—or groups of students—are demonstrating desired behaviors. Verbal acknowledgement can be very powerful, and the occasional reward for the entire class can make a great impact as well.