Classroom Expectations for a Kindergarten Class:
In our classroom, we use our…
- in-control bodies to stay safe and respect others’ space!
- listening ears to follow directions!
- raised hands to share great ideas and ask questions!
- quiet mouth to speak quietly with others so that everyone can work!
- helping hands to help and not hurt others!
- caring hearts to say and do nice things to others!
- We walk in the classroom.
- We push in our chairs when we leave our desk.
- We keep our hands to ourselves.
- We listen when the teacher is talking.
- We use kind words when we talk to others.
- We take care of our materials.
- We work hard and do our best.
- We share our ideas.
- We learn from our mistakes.
Rewards/Incentives (Petersen Prizes):
- Tickets will be awarded to individuals for displays of positive behavior and meeting/exceeding classroom expectations
- Tickets can be cashed in once a month as an individual or the table can go together to pick a prize
- Fewer tickets will be eligible for small items such as fun erasers, bookmarks, pencils, etc. while more tickets will be eligible for incentives such as lunch with the teacher, getting to read somewhere special besides their desks, one center activity replaced with a game, etc.
- First Warning: Student will receive oral reminder about classroom expectations/rules (“Student, it does not seem like your ears are listening/body is in control/etc..”
- Second Warning: Student will be asked to either return to their seat if interrupting whole group lessons on the carpet, or to move to the desk/chair next to the teacher.
- Third Warning: Student will be asked to sit in a chair right outside the door (classroom door open) and to return when they are ready to learn. A note will be made in their daily take-home behavior log.
- Further Consequences: Phone call directly home to parents and/or administrative involvement.
Norms for Behavior Analysis
The above behavior norms and classroom rules/expectations are appropriate for young students at the kindergarten level. The distinction between expectations and rules is important in kindergarten because students are experiencing the school day for the first time. Classroom expectations establish what the teacher wants to see students demonstrating while classroom rules establish why and how students must behave appropriately. The classroom expectations I identified focus on providing a clear model for positive behavior, and aim to give specific descriptions of what a great student would look like in comparison to the used of cliché words/phrases used in the older grades such as “respect others” and “persevere and work hard”. Though some of my list is modeled after expectations I have seen and read about in other classrooms, I chose six that I felt addressed the three important areas of my classroom rules: safety, respect, and learning.
The list of rules written above is longer and more detailed than is necessary to post permanently in the room, but they are important to share to start off the school year because they provide clear actions for students to follow. The safety rules specify why and how students need to have in-control bodies and helping hands. The respect rules focus on why students need to use listening ears and have quiet mouths and caring hearts. Lastly, the learning rules outline why students need to engage/participate with raised hands.
While student ownership of rules and expectations is increased by involving them in the decision-making process, I do not feel that kindergarten students need to participate in the actual writing/selection of class rules and expectations. As stated previously, kindergarten is the first official year of school and students come from such diverse backgrounds and settings that creating rules may be difficult. That said, teachers can engage kindergarten students in understanding the expectations and rules through activities that involve discussing good choices and by asking them to identify positive behavioral displays in their fellow classmates. They could also begin the year with videos of these behaviors, or activities allowing students to act our scenarios or draw pictures of the expectations.
The choices I made for my norms of behavior reflect both the importance of format and community-focused expectations. For format, I limited the list to six expectations so that it was a reasonable amount for students to remember. I also identified key phrases (adjective and body part) to help students remember the more detailed expectation. Aside from format, I know that students learn best as a community. My expectations reflect this in the style they are written (i.e. “we use our…”) as well as in their focus on positive interactions and participation with one another. Again, with young students experiencing school or the first time I wanted to add some character-focused expectations in order to create norms for a positive sense of community.
Beyond the classroom expectations and rules, I designed rewards and consequences to incentivize and reinforce positive behavior as well as address procedures for negative behavior. For the rewards, I developed a system called Petersen Prizes where they receive tickets, in response to clearly displaying most or all of the six expectations, and then every few weeks to a month they have the opportunity to cash the tickets in for a prize. Prizes range from personal items for fewer tickets and then group rewards if the table decides to collectively cash in their tickets. This system encourages teamwork and peer accountability because students will likely want the more significant rewards and will need to rely on their group in order to earn those. For consequences, I used a more procedural approach to ensure that the student is first provided an opportunity to correct the behavior, second asked to move in order to end disruption and provide time/space for a behavior adjustment, and third removed to allow for self-reflection before changing their behavior and joining/entering the class again. Though this third level seems strong, I observed a similar consequence system in action and it successfully addressed and corrected persistent or more severe misbehavior. It was also rare for students to make it to the third level because they self-corrected prior to that point.
Overall, the role of classroom expectations is to set a clear model for how students need to behave in order to maximize learning. Classroom rules, though connected to expectations, provide explicit actions for how and why students must behave appropriately. Not only is it important to establish both of these right away, but it is also important to be consistent in enforcing them so that students can learn from one another’s examples (both positive and negative). The other essential component to rules and expectations is the reward and consequence system – the main form of accountability for whether student behavior is positive (meeting or exceeding expectations) or negative (failing to meet expectations). The intentional choice of these rules, rewards, and consequences directly impacts classroom learning because when effective student behavior will contribute to active engagement and positive student-to-student and student-to-teacher interactions.