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Expectations in Schools

In many schools I visit I notice sets of rules about behavior.  I am not a big fan of rules, as I prefer agreements and expectations.  

Agreements because it means all stakeholders in the school establish and agree to the statements.  Expectations set the standard for what each individual is expected to do and how it impacts her/him and others in the school.

You can imagine my delight while visiting schools in Montana recently where the halls were lined with statements of expectations.  The expectations generally stated a commitment to ensuring everyone accepted responsibility, acted respectfully, ensured safety and expressed kindness.

In addition to these general expectations there were specific expectations for various areas in the school. For example, there is a set of expectations for behaviors in the hallway: 
  • Walk quietly so others can continue learning
  • Use positive actions and words toward peers and adults
  • Return to class promptly
  • Use lockers for intended purpose
  • Walk safely on the right side of the hall
  • Keep feet and hands to yourself
  • Greet others with a smile
In the cafeteria:
  • Wait to be excused
  • Clean up spills and ask for help
  • Use inside voice
  • For staff:
  • Sit with class/talk with students
  • Assist students with needs
In the library:
  • Try your best
  • Bring your books back on time
  • Use appropriate voice level
  • Use objects in the room the right way
And even in the bathrooms:
  • Flush the toilet
  • Put all trash in the trash can
  • Wash hands with soap and water
  • Return to class promptly
As you can see it is not sufficient to establish a set of standards but to express them in terms of expectations with specific behaviors appropriate for the spaces and circumstances throughout the school.

Engaging all stakeholders in establishing the expectations ensures agreement and ownership and for me a much better process and set of appropriate behaviors than a bunch of rules.

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