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How to Create a Student-Driven Top 10 List of Classroom Expectations

How to Create a Student-Driven Top 10 List of Classroom Expectations

By The TFA Editorial Team

April 17, 2015

Most teachers would agree that creating a classroom culture in which students are empowered to follow the rules and eager to work together as a team is a win-win for everyone. One way to achieve this happy synergy is to implement a top 10 expectations and rewards system, developed and created by your students. Learn more about how to get your students invested in creating an efficient, focused classroom.

Step 1

Brainstorm with students a list of things that are the most important for having a safe and productive classroom (or work environment). Get as many students as possible to share their ideas and write those ideas on the board. 

Step 2

From your list, see if you can narrow your ideas down to 10 by looking for duplicate ideas and combining them. If there are things that you as the teacher think are important to have on the list, but the students didn’t come up with, try to lead them to it without forcing the expectation on them. 

Step 3

Once the list is finalized, brainstorm a list of small and big rewards. The rewards list can be anything they want it to be—from free computer time to chips, on the small end of the scale, to a pizza party or field trip as larger rewards. 

Step 4

Ask a student to create a large poster listing the top 10 expectations to hang in the classroom. Here is a sample list to get you started:

  1. Be on time (100% of students focused within 60 seconds of class start).

  2. Respectful interactions (i.e. no profanity, no shouting, not touching others’ property, etc.)

  3. Work as a team

  4. Stay in your seat

  5. Maintain a positive attitude

  6. One person speaks at a time (no side conversations)

  7. Turn in all homework and class work

  8. Absolutely no horseplay (no throwing items, hands to yourself)

  9. Keep the classroom clean

  10. Line up quickly and quietly

Use the last five minutes of every class to review your top 10 list, and reward points for those expectations that were fully met. Points may be added, but they shouldn’t be taken away. Simply tally the total each day. Once the class reaches 50 points, choose from your list of small rewards. When they earn 200 points, choose from the big list.

It’s important to hold extremely high expectations for these behaviors—and not award points for partial completion—since the students created them. As you and your students get more used to the system, consider choosing a student who’s displaying his/her “A” game to be the one to tally the points for the day. Choosing a different student each day is a great way to offer personal rewards as a bonus to the class-wide system. Reviewing the list at the end of class also provides an opportunity to call out students who were doing the right thing.