top of page

Setting the Tone: Establishing Clear Classroom Rules and Expectations for a Successful School Year

Updated: Jan 16

Behaviour is a major challenge faced in classrooms around the globe. If you are struggling, you are not the only one. New teachers, experienced teachers, teachers of young students and teachers of older students WILL face a challenging year, or more, sometime in their career. Will this be your year? Let’s try to reduce the likelihood of poor behaviour happening in your classroom by discussing how you can establish clear classroom rules and expectations and set yourself up for success.

Setting rules and expectations is an essential activity at the beginning of the school year.


Why set classroom rules and expectations?

Setting classroom rules and expectations for your students is an essential part of creating a productive learning environment. Here’s why:

  • They provide structure and boundaries that allow students to feel safe and secure while they learn.

  • They help to establish expectations for behaviour and conduct, which can lead to a more positive and respectful classroom atmosphere.

  • They reduce disruptions and distractions, which can help to improve student engagement and achievement.

  • It is an important step in fostering an environment where students can thrive and reach their full potential.

How do I set rules and expectations for my class?

There are a few key steps you can take to set rules and expectations for your class. It is important to involve your students in the process:


Ask your students what they consider their perfect classroom would be like...what it would look like, sound like and feel like. Have them work with a buddy to write down their ideas. Click on the link to download a worksheet to use.

My Perfect Classroom Looks, Sounds, Feels Like FPS
Download PDF • 943KB


Once they have considered this, have a class discussion to identify rules that would be needed to ensure a safe, productive and respectful classroom. Record their ideas. Write only positive statements, things the students should do e.g., “Walk around the classroom” NOT “Don't run”.

Classify and Group

Now classify these behaviours into groups. The smaller the number of groups the easier for students to remember. Label each group. This is the behaviour expectation: the behaviour you, and they, expect to see in your classroom. Here’s what it might look like:





•hand up when you want to ask or answer a question

•look at a persons’ eyes when you are speaking to them

•use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

•use people’s names when you speak to them

•bring your reading book into the class every morning

•make sure your pencils are sharp

•keep your drawer/tray tidy

•say “Good morning, (name), ” when you walk into the classroom in the morning

•return other students’ property to them

•chat to others who seem to be lonely

•smile, smile, smile

•walk around the classroom

•ensure four on the floor (chair legs)

•keep your hands to yourself

•always have your hat in your bag


Highlight these behaviour expectations and make sure your students understand what is expected of them. You can do this by posting your expectations in the classroom, reviewing them with your students, and discussing them as needed.

You may like to go to our Freebie Resource Library to pick up a copy of these Editable Posters for your classroom.

Role Play and Model

Over the coming days and weeks, and throughout the year, have your students role play various good and not-so-good behaviours. Ask a volunteer to behave poorly in a particular situation and discuss with the class what was wrong. Students ALWAYS love to model the wrong behaviour! Then have them role model how to behave well in the same situation.


Discuss consequences for not following the rules and expectations. Be clear, consistent and fair.

Following these steps will help you to create a safe, positive and productive learning environment for your students and will set them up for success.

Be firm and fair.


bottom of page