Setting Expectations

In both elementary and secondary classrooms, the start of the school year is crucial to effective management. A significant aspect of this beginning is the teacher's establishment of expectations for student behavior, which are expressed through rules and procedures. Rules indicate the expectations for behavior in the classroom, and for how one interacts with one's peers and the teacher. Procedures have to do with how things get done. Rules can be, and frequently are, developed with the students' help, which increases the likelihood of compliance.

Ultimately, with or without student input, the teacher must have a picture of what code of behavior is essential for the classroom to function as desired. Both rules and procedures must be taught, practiced, and enforced consistently. Included with the development of rules and procedures is the accountability system of the classroom, which must communicate to students how they are held responsible for the academic work that they do.

Researchers have confirmed that effective classroom managers begin the year by setting expectations. At the elementary school level better managers also consistently analyze classroom tasks, teach going-to-school skills, see the classroom through students' eyes, and monitor student behavior from the beginning of the year. These characteristics are similar at the middle school and junior high level, where better managers also explain rules and procedures, monitor student behavior, develop student accountability for work, communicate information, and organize instruction from the first day of school. Research has shown that teachers whose students demonstrated high task engagement and academic achievement implement a systematic approach toward classroom management at the beginning of the school year. Therefore, one of the critical aspects of managing classrooms effectively, or managing classrooms in ways to enhance student learning, is setting expectations.

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