There are a whole host of benefits to intentionally promoting clear and shared classroom rules and expectations. A survey of the research demonstrates some of the obvious benefits, such as:
Students know what to expect and they understand the learning tasks better (Wentzel, 2006).
Things in the class run more smoothly with less confusion (Grusec & Goodnow, 1994).
Students have a clearer sense of what it takes to perform (Hines, Cruickshank & Kennedy, 1985).
Some other benefits of having clear classroom rules and expectations that are less obvious, are:
Expectations that are clear and shared are essential to help foster the cause-and-effect relationship between actions and consequences. Without clarity and a shared understanding, consequences feel arbitrary. The result is that they will have less benefit and be experienced as more punitive and result in more resentment and less behavior change.
The absence of clear expectations will create practical problems and an environment of uneasiness in the class that will lead to confusion, frustration and hostility when expectations clash.
An intentional approach to promoting expectations helps them become more concrete and meaningful. When expectations exist as words (or privately held assumptions), they remain abstractions. They must be “operationalized” to be effective.
Expectations help the class interpret events and actions as examples or non-examples of “things that are making us better”.
Are the rules in your classroom defined clearly?