The hustle and bustle of a new school year can get overwhelming. This is true because of things like curriculum planning, attending meetings, and organizing supplies, but also because you have to teach students the routines, procedures, and rules of the art room.
Because we have so many classes, the repetitive nature of this can grow tiresome. That’s why, in my classroom, I believe in creating expectations with my students.
Allowing students to take ownership over their environment shows them you value their thoughts. In the book, The Classroom of Choice: Giving Students What They Need and Getting What You Want, author Jonathan Erwin says, “One of the most effective and practical ways teachers can give students a say in the classroom is by allowing them to participate in developing the classroom rules or behavior guidelines.”
From experience, I find teachers value leadership that takes their ideas and opinions into account when creating building norms or making changes in the school environment. So, you can see how this would work well with students, too!
Many times in school, students are told what to do or how to think. Erwin supports this statement when he writes, “In academic classes, students are told how to behave, what to learn, when and how to learn it, and they are assessed in ways that may not take into account the diverse intelligences that exist in every student population.”
Giving students a say will allow them to feel valued. As they contribute to the classroom expectations, they are more likely to follow them. They also will be able to use their critical thinking skills as they develop ideas to share with the class. It is beneficial to have student investment to promote a positive and safe learning environment.
Getting students to collaborate on the first day is a great way to show how much you value students working together. As the teacher, you are modeling collaboration as well by getting students involved in developing classroom expectations. Instead of the usual “sit and get” structure, you are providing your students with a meaningful and interactive learning experience.
Having students directly involved in the creation of classroom expectations leaves less room for confusion. When students are a direct part of the process, they comprehend everything better. Students won’t just be listening to you explain the expectations, they will be direct participants, brainstorming, discussing, and refining!
If this idea is new for you, having a basic classroom discussion is helpful and a comfortable way to start. This method also works especially well for younger elementary students who can’t yet write well. Simply give prompts about rules you have had in the past and ask for additional suggestions.
For example, respect is a typical rule you will find in most classes. Bring up the topic of respect. Ask students, “Why it is important to be respectful in art class?,” or, “What are ways for the class to be respectful in art class?” This questioning technique allows you to guide the discussion but allows for students to gain a deeper understanding and add input about expectations for the classroom.
To get even more collaborative, allow your students the opportunity to work and brainstorm together.
This activity is great for older students who can handle more movement around the room and more independent work.
Here’s what to do:
No matter how you go about creating your classroom expectations, it’s important to come up with some sort of visual or document for your students.
Here are two ways to do that.
Both of these methods allow you to have an easy reference if students forget the rules. If things are going awry, you can point to your poster or contract and conduct a mini-class targeted toward the expectations that need attention. It’s powerful to be able to refer to the expectations and remind students they were involved in the creation of them.
What do you do on the first day of class when it comes to classroom expectations?
What other benefits are there to creating shared classroom expectations with students?