Primary Classroom Management (Step 2)

Raising Expectations

This is the next stage in our classroom management strategy – up to this point we have sorted out the desks and  who will be sitting where –  based on what we know about the children.

We have then appointed monitors to help with systems around the class which means that things work smoothly and more often than not quicker.

Now we are looking at how the Class functions on the basic day to day running tasks – so we back we go to the statement ” Whose class is this?”….again the answer is “It’s yours” and it’s you who creates the environment, atmosphere and sets the level of challenge and expectation – so lets get started.

From the 1st minute that you get your new class you are setting out to the children EXACTLY what you will and wont accept in ALL areas of classroom life. Not only academic but everything that happens in the class.

Now this may seem a tall order but its really not when you get to understand the principle and put things into practice.

The children you receive into your class will come with vastly different experiences of school life (and this includes Nursery children coming in Reception) – it is up to you as Class teacher to set your expectations high and then make sure the children reach them. If you don’t set these high expectations then your class will constantly receive mixed messages about standards of work and behaviour that change from day to day! – class life will in my opinion simply become a mess and certainly a struggle for you.

Children like to be in an organised environment (it may not seem like it when you are implementing !)….they like to know the parameters that they have to work within and what is expected of them. They like the predictability of situations and also of people and they should get to know you as a teacher who is firm but fair in all situations. In my experience the “harder” (for want of a better word) the school and the children then MORE they need this safe and predictable part of their lives. For many children life in the world is very unpredictable and disorganised and they find it hard to trust in adults. In school you need to create that stable environment where everything is predictable, fair and understandable. How many times have you seen children who are no problem in school walk out of the school doors and immediately start to be difficult for their parents – or the behaviour of a good class go to pieces when a supply teacher walks in and all the known parameters vanish?

Now obviously I can’t list all the examples of where this needs applying but hopefully you will get the gist and see what I mean.

The basic premise is this…., if there is something that you don’t like or is not working in your class then change it….and the way we are going to look at this is in the smallest details….as added together they go towards the full picture.

As a teacher, set your expectations so high initially, that when the children first arrive in your class, it rocks them back on their heels….checkout this picture from the film Uncle Buck ( its in the breakfast scene!)


Don’t worry – after the initial shock and you constantly applying your expectations they will rise to meet them !

Let me give you some examples to show you what I mean…..they’re all small things but still matter

  1. Calling the register – When calling the register in my class children were not allowed to speak except to answer their name. I used to say when I was ready to start and expected the children to settle quickly. If this did not happen then the children were asked again to be quiet. When calling the register if a child began talking I would stop and wait before continuing (without saying anything). If the processes really did not work at any stage then I would take the register without calling out names and the class would be brought back at playtime to explain what was expected and to practice taking the register again. (you can always send for the register a couple of minutes before playtime from the office. This reminds and reinforces to the children that a practice is going to happen because it was not done properly in the first place). Practice taking the register a couple of  times and then let the children out to play. At every registration time apply the same criteria.
  2. Start of a new lesson – Many times I would start by saying  “ok rule off from your last piece of work and write the date ( date agreed was on the top line left). I would then walk around the class looking at this being done –  any of the following had to be done again. …new page / wrong side for date / poor ruling / untidy writing / blunt pencil. If it did not meet the standard then children were told to do it again.
  3. Coming in from the playground – My classes always lined up and walked in properly ….however some schools allow classes to drift into the entrances and not line up. If this is the case then you can always set a point for your class to line up, generally at the door rather than all crowding in. When lining up, the class should assemble quickly and be able to walk in without fuss or allowing too many gaps. Taking off coats was allowed 2 or 3 minutes to avoid making the cloakrooms a meeting place for a chat and so delaying everybody in class. Going out at playtime or lunchtime – we dismissed table by table according to which was ready. If you allow classes to rush, push and shove you’re asking for problems, arguments and injuries to occur + it looks a mess (which it is). If classes can’t match up to what you want then practice it a couple of times, in playtimes or lunchtimes ….but keep reinforcing (Lining up seems to be a constant reminder thing but you will have a good standard that they achieve)

Stepping back from the examples, I hope you can see how you are setting standards and expectations to create organisation in your classroom. Always explain to the children what you are expecting and then stick to it and keep doing this until the standards are met. You should do this in everything you do…so that the children know EXACTLY what is expected of them and of course what happens if this is not met.

These things are not achieved in a day or even a week – some things like lining up you will always seem to be reminding! But keep that constancy in what you expect….correct when it is not met and don’t accept less – in this way you will gradually start to see the class the way you want it to be.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *