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classroom norms

Setting the Stage: Creating Classroom Norms

Lesson Plan: Creating and Setting Classroom Expectations

Objective: By the end of this lesson, students will understand the importance of classroom expectations and actively contribute to creating a positive learning environment.


  • Chart paper or whiteboard

  • Markers

  • Sticky notes

  • Index cards

Instructor Notes: You’ll want to adapt and modify the lesson plan based on the specific needs and dynamics of your classroom. It’s a good idea to take time before the class to write down your own expectations for the class. That way, you can help guide students to create a list that will be more effective. Keep the activity light-hearted and fun, but don’t be afraid to give students this responsibility. The more involved they are in the process, the more they’ll remember these expectations. 


Introduction (5 minutes)

Do: Greet the students and introduce yourself. Share your excitement for the upcoming school year.

Say: Did you know that in order for a kite to fly, it needs to be tied with a string? Without the string, the kite will fall down. Just like that string, our class needs expectations that will help us stay grounded and have a lot of fun. So for today, we’ll create and set classroom expectations together. I want you all to be involved and have a say in how this classroom is run. 

The Importance of Classroom Expectations (10 minutes)

Discuss: Engage the students in a brief discussion about what they think classroom expectations are and why they are important.

Ask: "Why do you think it's important to have rules and expectations in the classroom?"

Ask: "How do rules and expectations help us create a positive learning environment?"

Ask: "What are some examples of classroom expectations that you have experienced in the past?"

Brainstorming Classroom Expectations (10 minutes)

Do: Divide the students into small groups of 3-4. Distribute sticky notes and markers to each group.

Say: I want each group to brainstorm classroom expectations together. I hope everyone will share at least one idea they believe will contribute to a positive and respectful learning environment. Each of you deserves a safe space to learn—a place you can feel comfortable coming to every day. 

  • Encourage them to think about behavior, participation, respect, and any other relevant aspects.

  • Explain that each expectation should be written on a separate sticky note.

Sharing and Consolidating Expectations (10 minutes)

Ask: I’d like for each group to share one expectation at a time. Take turns coming up to the front and sticking your notes on the whiteboard.

Discuss: Review each expectation as it is shared with the following questions.

  • Ask: "Why do you think this expectation is important?"

  • Ask: "How might this expectation help us create a positive learning environment?"

Do: Write down the expectations on the chart paper or whiteboard, grouping similar ones together.

Voting and Prioritizing Expectations (5 minutes)

Do: Provide each student with an index card.

Say: I want you to write down your top three most important expectations from the list.

Do: Collect the index cards and tally the votes.

Discuss: As a class, review the expectations that received the most votes, emphasizing their significance in creating a positive classroom environment.

Finalizing Classroom Expectations (10 minutes)

Say: Based on the voting results, we’re going to talk about the top five expectations that you, as a class, value the most.

Do: Write these expectations on a separate chart paper or create a poster to display prominently in the classroom.

Do: Read aloud the finalized classroom expectations. Have the students raise their hands and verbally commit to upholding these expectations throughout the school year. You can also have the students sign the poster as a sign of their commitment. 

Say: Remember that, in order to make this work, I need each of you to help support our expectations for yourself and for each other. When we all participate and keep a positive and respectful classroom, it means we get to focus on having fun this year. 


Say: Thank you for participating. I’m so excited about this school year, and I think these expectations will help this to be the best class yet!

  • Remind them that by working together to adhere to these expectations, they will create a classroom environment where everyone can thrive.

  • Encourage students to ask questions throughout the year if they have a question about the expectations. 

Written by Rachel Jones
Education World Contributor
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