New Ideas for Reinforcing Classroom Norms

One part of how we build the social dimension in our classrooms is by establishing norms or guidelines for student (and teacher) behavior. In a Reading Apprenticeship classroom, these norms are built as a class, with students leading the conversation about their needs from both peers and teachers in order to be academically successful. These teacher-facilitated conversations lead to norms posters that act as contracts, enabling everyone in the classroom to hold each other accountable for their behaviors. This process also means that each class we teach has its own, unique norms poster to guide students’ interactions. While we have the best intensions in creating these posters, often, I find that they get lost in the day to day operations of my classroom. Below are a few ideas that help to incorporate our norms into daily classroom routines:

  • Before beginning partner or group work, have each student choose a norm from the class poster to set as a personal goal, then give groups time to briefly share their goals and why they chose them.
  • Type up a copy of the classroom norms and give students time to reflect on their adherence to each norm through a Likert scale. Place a poster with a blank scale next to the classroom norms. Have students, over the course of the hour, come up and place a dot on the class scale, representing where they personally fall for each norm. At the end of the hour, you will have a great visual to help establish a whole-class goal for improving adherence to a norm.
  • Ask groups (especially those completing extended tasks) to discuss the classroom norms and chose one to set as a group goal. At the end of the project, have each group member reflect on his or her personal use of that norm.
  • Use the typed copy of the norms to have long-term groups rate their peers’ use of each norm as a part of their assessment of their team’s work
  • Ask students to write a reflection at the end of a unit or marking period about their adherence to the norms, and then open the conversation to editing/adding to the classroom poster!

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