Setting Expectations

Engaging Students The First Weeks Of School Series- Setting Expectations

   If you’re just joining the discussion, this is week two of my Engaging Students The First Weeks of School Series. Last week we discussed spending time the first few weeks getting to know your students and letting them get to know more about you. Be sure to check out that post here so you can get all caught up!

     This week we will be discussing the ever important, but often challenging, topic of setting expectations. I discussed last week how these first few weeks are a great time for you to show your students a little bit about who you are and how the year will go. Since I’m obviously a huge fan of engagement, I have to give the kids a little taste of my style while we introduce expectations as well.


      While there really isn’t anything engaging about reviewing school rules and expectations, (especially in the upper grades when kids have done this year after year…) there is something engaging about Expectations Boot Camp! This multi-day lesson will not only allow students to review expectations in a fun way, but also learn the expectations of engaging and interactive activities. (Because if you don’t set some ground rules before a room transformation, you’re going to have kids who can’t handle it.)


     Throughout the first few weeks of school, students will be enrolled in Expectations Boot Camp. Be sure to wear a camo shirt and find a camo hat (Dollar Tree usually has some in their costume section) in order to play the part of the Sargent and set the stage. I get asked often how I get kids to buy-in to these types of lessons, and my answer is- when you give them your energy and set the standard, they will rise to it! If you talk it down or pretend it’s silly, they will do the same. But, if you’re all in from the beginning with a costume, accent or persona- they will play right along with you!

      First up is teaching your class their Boot Camp class song. Think… Sound Off…1..2.. Sound Off… 3…4… But if you’re not feeling especially creative at the moment, there is a song that I have already created in the google slides here that you can easily add your name to! Sing this song to start your day, as you’re lining up for recess, when you’re transitioning from activity to activity, the kids will love it.


  From here you can use the expectation stations to teach or review the expectations of the different areas in your school or your classroom. Print these out and hang them around the classroom or put them out on desks and have students move around and complete a gallery walk/chalk talk type activity where they silently add their ideas of the expected behavior to each of the sections- Expectation, Looks Like and Sounds Like. Students can then work in small groups to pick an area and review all that has been written by their fellow recruits. They should choose the top two ideas from each section to share out to the class in order to reinforce expectations.

     Throughout the week don’t forget to add some camaraderie games to your Morning Meeting or for brain breaks. This will give kids a chance to build community with their new class and allow them to work with different classmates to solve challenges.


The final activity is to have kids write a song or chant that reviews the expected behaviors of a specific setting or activity. Kids can write their songs collaboratively on the Google Slides that is provided. After a few days of writing the songs, groups will present their songs to the class and teach them the expected behaviors through their song. I would suggest actually visiting that setting so students can associate their learning with that setting. Then, create a class recording in that setting to play back at a later time when you might need to review expectations.

Here is an example of a song the students wrote for specials! I love seeing how creative they are!

Here is an example of a song the students wrote for specials! I love seeing how creative they are!

     Be sure to have a little graduation at the end of Boot Camp where your recruits officially graduate to Expectation Specialists!

     Of course there are so many ways you can work to set expectations at the beginning of the year, but hopefully this adds a little excitement and extra engagement to your normal expectation lessons. Make it your own and watch the kids thrive in the environment you’ve created!

     *This same Expectations Boot Camp can also be a Re-Boot Camp as well! Right after Winter Break or Spring Break you could return to these same activities or do it for the first time to review expectations for the end of the year too! You can never review expectations too many times in order to make sure your class runs as smoothly as possible.*

     You don’t have to recreate this lesson either! I’ve got all you need to engage your class in the resource Expectations Boot Camp, complete with a hard copy and Google Slides as well. Grab It HERE!