Creating Shared Work Time Norms and Expectations

Utilizing student input to develop shared work time expectations is key to successful learning task management
214 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

By creating expectations and norms of what students are expected to be doing during group work, teachers can elevate student voice and manage student behavior during small group work time or during a station rotation.  Students can own the expectations and feel confident and productive when they are engaging in learning tasks because they thoroughly understand the expectations. By creating shared expectations, the students can have a say in the consequences when expectations are not met.  This empowers students to have a voice in both the setting of expectations and the consequences for not meeting those expectations. 

Implementation Steps

10 minutes
  1. Before beginning group work, teachers should have a discussion with students about how developing work time expectations together will support students in having a say in what work time should look like  by creating an anchor chart. To learn more about anchor charts, consult the "Anchor Chart" strategy. During this time, they can also think about consequences for when expectations are not met.

  2. The work time expectations may vary slightly from your regular classroom expectations, so it is important to develop both of these for students.  Some teachers might call them norms of work time.

  3. The class should discuss what it looks like and sounds like to be productively working in a group or alone including what it looks like to get out materials and put materials away. To learn more about this strategy, consult the "Y Chart" strategy.

  4. The shared expectations and consequences should be charted and displayed in the classroom once they have been agreed upon.

  5. Revisit the expectations before students engage in group work and model the expectations regularly.

  6. As the students or tasks grow or change, revisit the expectations and change as needed.

EL Modification

For English Learners, teachers could have picture support for each of the work time expectations so that students will have a visual cue to remember what is expected.  

A teacher could also have students model what the correct behavior looks like multiple times so students can see what they should be doing, and they should make sure to ask a variety of students to model the behaviors over the course of many days.

Questions to Consider

  • When will you develop the expectations with students?

  • When will you have students model the expectations?

  • How long will you review the expectations before students know and are able to use them during work time?

  • How will you share this information with new students when they arrive?

Coach Tips

Natalee Hawks
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Initially setting up the work time expectations should be a conversation and take about 15-30 minutes.  It is vital that the expectations are revisited and modeled throughout the day. These reminders could take 5-10 minutes and should happen frequently at first.  Over time, the expectations should be revisited and should be posted for students to reference.