Friday, 25 September 2015

Setting expectations: Keep it simple

In our school we have a sheet of expectations and a rubric of expectations that include examples.  These are posted in each classroom, but I find that they are cumbersome and have too much print on them to catch students' attention on an ongoing basis.  So in the past I have gone over them on the first day of school and then posted them in a remote corner.
This summer I read an article about setting expectations in the classroom.  It said that it is best to keep expectations to 10 or less so that students can keep focused on them.  
At first I thought "That's impossible!  I spend most of the first TWO WEEKS talking to them about my expectations!"
Then I realized that most of the things I'm telling them are how we do classroom ROUTINES and that the expectations are overarching principles that encompass ALL of these.  And more.
I can't remember who wrote the post I read or I'd cite that for you (I think I followed a link and another link), but it included 8 basic expectations that were used in their school that I thought were very universal and covered the areas that I think are important for my students.  The source for the 8 expectations is a group called Great Expectations. If you go to their website you will find more resources to use. The link in their logo goes to the elementary site. 

I changed the language a bit because they were geared for older kids, (I have second and third grades this year) but I left in some that I considered changing because there were terms I thought they could learn and are important for them to become familiar with.
An article I read a few years ago (again I don't know who it was, but that one was research based - I read it for a paper I was doing for my Masters degree) said that there is no point in putting up any printed material in a classroom (including charts, posters, etc.) unless you are going to spend time on it REGULARLY.  If you don't it becomes part of the landscape and is ignored. I have noticed that this is true in my classroom, and I took it to heart.  I took down all the cute posters that were up on the walls, and replaced them with only things that would be used and that I would refer to at least once a week.  It doesn't have to be a big deal every time, but if you want the kids to use them they need to have their attention drawn to them.  
When I first put something up I do make a big deal of it, and we go over it a bunch of times.  They probably get tired of hearing about it.  But they remember.
So I made up 8" X 5" cards for each of my expectations.  They are very plain and to the point because I want the students to stay focused on the message, and they don't need any visual clues for them because we cover them over and over until I'm sure they know them. I put them up two at a time the first 4 days of school and we discuss them.  

Here's what they look like posted in my classroom:

If you'd like these for your classroom you can get them HERE.
I'm joining FREEBIE FRIDAY  at Teaching Blog Addict this week. Hop over and grab a few freebies. 


  1. I like the idea of separate cards. IT would be easy to change or add to them as the year goes along.

  2. Setting expectations each year does take time. I like the photograph of how you show the important information in your classroom.
    Artistry of Education

  3. I like the way you added the cards to your calendar. Good visual and easy to remember.

  4. Hi Debbie, This is Fern from Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas.
    This resource is terrific! I want to thank you for linking up at my Teaching Blog Addict's Freebie Friday post last week! Please come back tomorrow because you're my Featured Blogger! Congratulations!
    Have a great weekend,
    Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas!
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