Many teachers have found that when their classroom expectations and culture allows students to be part of decision-making processes, they end up working better as a team. This is a fundamental principle for creating a positive culture where everyone shares the same goals.

Classroom expectations

Some teachers have found that a top ten list of classroom expectations and rewards that are created by the students themselves is one way to achieve this. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating classroom expectations.

Step 1

The first thing to do is to have the students brainstorm and come up with a list of items. They should feel that these are fundamentals to a classroom environment where everyone feels safe, secure and productive. Have the students come up to the front of the classroom and write their ideas on the chalkboard.

Step 2

The next step is to condense the ideas so that they are in a manageable list of just ten items. You can do this by having the students identify any duplicate items or multiple ideas that could be placed into one category. Keep doing this until you have just ten items.

Step 3

Next, have the students brainstorm another list. This list will be of possible rewards for meeting classroom expectations. Guide the students so they come up with rewards that are practical and within the resources available to the teacher and students. Ideas include a homework pass, a pizza party, or a day where the classwork is done outdoors instead of inside the classroom. Each reward should come in exchange for a certain number of points that can be earned according to whatever expectations were met on various days.

Step 4

Ask for volunteers who would like to collaborate on a giant poster that lists all the ten classroom expectations that everyone came up with. The poster should be legible from the back of the classroom. Naturally, it can also be colorful and include drawings and other graphics that the artists would like to include to make the poster more interesting.

A sample list might be:
  • Show up on time each morning
  • Be respectful to others
  • Work together
  • Remain seated
  • Stay positive
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Hand in assignments on time
  • Don’t fool around in class
  • Keep the classroom tidy
  • Stay organized

Step 5

Finally, explain to the students that in order for the classroom expectations list to work, everyone has to commit to using it on a daily basis. Suggest to the students that they quickly review the list in the morning when the class commences. Then you must commit to using the list each day at the end of class.

Step 6

One possible way to use the list is to use the last few minutes of the class to go over each of the items on the list. With a show of hands, ask the students if they feel each expectation was met that day. If the students all claim that an expectation was met but you disagree, explain why you disagree. Ask the students to reconsider. If they maintain their stance, you should go along with their consensus since it is a majority vote.

The classroom expectations list is a great way for teachers to create a collaborative environment where all the students feel like they are on the same team. Not only that, but this project will help students to feel like their opinions are important and that they are being heard. This is a great lesson in itself, and will no doubt serve your students well as they grow into adulthood and go out into the world.