Behavioral Tips from Randy Sprick

Task 3: Prepare Lessons on Expectations

It is important for you to define for yourself exactly how you expect students to behave during various classroom activities and transitions, but it is not enough. You will also need to communicate those expectations to students clearly and thoroughly. We believe that effectively communicating expectations can be accomplished through this three-step process:

  1. Teach your expectations before the activity or transition begins.
  2. Monitor student behavior by circulating and visually scanning.
  3. Provide positive feedback during the activity and at the conclusion of the activity.

To teach expectations effectively, you need to:

  1. Develop a preliminary plan for how you will teach.
  2. Prepare the lessons you will use to teach your students.

Develop a Preliminary Plan

Your plan for how you will teach your CHAMPS expectations should reflect answers to three basic questions:

  1. How detailed do your lessons need to be?
  2. How long do you anticipate having to actively teach the lessons?
  3. What is the best way to organize the "content"?

When answering these questions, consider the complexity of the expectations you have defined, your own teaching style, and the age and sophistication of your students. For example, in settings with mature and responsible students, it may be sufficient to verbally describe your expectations on the first day of school, provide short verbal reviews on the second and third days, and thereafter use only occasional reminders. On the other hand, with difficult students you should plan to teach your expectations—using visual displays, demonstrations, and perhaps even actual practice—everyday for at least the first ten days of school.

To organize the content, you may use several different options:

  1. List the three or four main expectations.
  2. Use a T-Chart of "looks like/sounds like" descriptors.
  3. Use the CHAMPS acronym to list expectations for conversation, help, activity, movement, and participation. See an example of a completed CHAMPS activity chart for "independent seatwork while teacher is with small group."

One last note about your preliminary plan—it is better to overplan than underplan. We recommend that you err on the side of more lessons and more detailed lessons. It is always easier to condense or eliminate then to create new lessons once school has started.

Prepare Your Lessons

As you begin to prepare your lessons, keep in mind that you will teach the lesson for a particular activity/transition immediately before that activity/transition occurs.

Also, keep in mind that the two main activities that must be included in all lessons on expectations are:

Depending upon what you determined when you developed your preliminary plan, you may need/want to include:

  1. Textual and/or graphic visual displays (overhead transparencies, flip charts, flip notebooks, bulletin boards)
  2. Demonstrations of the expected behaviors (by you and/or by students)
  3. Opportunities for students to practice and rehearse the expected behaviors


Regardless of exactly how you teach your expectations for a given activity or transition, you should probably ask students a few questions about the expectations before you actually start the activity or transition. The answers students give (or fail to give) will help you determine whether or not you have adequately explained the essential information. If students can answer your questions, you are probably ready to start the activity or transition. On the other hand, if students seem unsure of their answers or if they are unable to answer the questions at all, you should go over the information again, more thoroughly. That is, you need to plan on "re-teaching" the expectations until students know what you expect.

Do not ask for volunteers to answer the questions. Students who do not know the answer are unlikely to volunteer; so you will not get accurate information about whether all students understand the expectations. A more effective approach is to ask the question first, give everyone time to think, and then assign one individual student to answer. "Everyone, get ready to answer a few questions. During the time we will be working in cooperative groups, can you get out of your seat for any reason? If so, what are the reasons? (Pause to provide think time.) Jared, please answer."

Level of Structure and Lessons to Teach Expectations

The greater the level of structure needed in your classroom, the more detailed you are going to have to be when teaching your expectations, and the more time you should plan to spend explaining and reviewing your expectations. If your expectations are relatively simple and your students are relatively sophisticated, it might be enough to just tell them the expectations before any particular activity begins. However, if your expectations are complex and/or students are less mature, your lessons should be more involved—perhaps using the CHAMPS acronym, visual displays, modeling, practice, and verifying student understanding. The goal is to ensure that your lessons communicate to students exactly what behaviors you expect from them.

— Excerpt from CHAMPS: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management