Use A Graphic Organizer To Determine Grade Level Behavior Expectations

Writing students’ ideas makes them feel a part of determining behavior expectations.

Determining behavior expectations for your class on the first day of school sets a tone of community and respect for the entire year. Teachers in any grade level can benefit from developing expectations with students through the use of a graphic organizer. Graphic organizers, such as T-charts or Venn diagrams, enable a teacher to discuss expectations with students. Students benefit by accessing their ideas visually. Teachers who determine expectations with their students give them a sense of voice and choice in the classroom.



1. Draw a T-chart on the board, large enough for all students to see. Title one side of the chart “Expectations for the Teacher” and the other side “Expectations for Students.”

2. Discuss with your class the expectations they think belong in a classroom. Begin with the student side of the T-chart. Guide students to brainstorm expectations that will help them focus on learning, such as using an appropriate voice level. Write student ideas under the appropriate heading.

3. Discuss the teacher’s expectations. Guide students to brainstorm what the teacher will do while they are working. Examples include monitor their understanding, read with students or assess their learning. Write student ideas under the appropriate heading.

4. Summarize student ideas by drawing an arrow from the completed T-chart to a new one with the same headings. Since many of their ideas will be similar, guide students in determining which ones can be summarized under a single expectation such as “respect others.”

Venn Diagram

5. Draw two large intersecting circles on the board to create a Venn diagram. Label the left-hand circle with the previous grade level of the students. Label the right-hand circle with the students’ current grade level.

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6. Ask students to brainstorm expectations in the classroom from last year. Write their ideas in the left-hand circle.

7. Ask students to brainstorm expectations they think will help them learn this year. Write their ideas in the right-hand circle.

8. Write the ideas that were the same for both grade levels in the open space where the circles intersect. Tell students that these ideas represent not only the expectations they feel are necessary for the current grade level, but also those that are important enough to apply across grade levels.

9. Summarize the ideas in the center if they are repetitive. These will serve as the finalized list of behavior expectations.