What 8th Graders Want From Your Classroom Expectations

I’m grading my first set of final exams and I had a small survey at the end to get ideas for next year. I’m always thinking forward, but I thought this would be a powerful opportunity for reflection from their perspective.  Especially this class.

I asked them to tell me one classroom expectation they liked having and why. I don’t really know what I expected them to say because my expectations aren’t outlined anywhere on a poster in my room. It’s one of those, “When you walk in, you just KNOW.” Because of that, I wondered if they would ask me what I meant by the question. They didn’t. And I was pleasantly surprised by the expectation they appreciated the most: respect from each other. 

Just so you know, I don’t allow “shut up” in my classes – NO EXCEPTIONS. I correct it immediately and they learn quickly to rephrase those two words in a more polite way.

I also don’t allow kids to “roast” each other.  I don’t like it and I don’t allow it – NO EXCEPTIONS. We are a community of family and trust for 94 minutes, and we don’t speak to each other disrespectfully.

Here are some of their responses about my expectation of respect:

I should also tell you that in the past, I’ve always been proud of my classroom management skills. When you teach for 17 years and kids always seem to “buy in” to what you expect with no pushback, you think you have it all figured out.

Ahem. Well… Lemme tell you. I don’t think that anymore.

This class really challenged my thinking on classroom management. When I got them, they were used to running the show and I had some behavioral issues and personality conflicts I had never experienced before. Unlike my other two classes, it took months to bring this class into a culture of respect (not only of me, but of each other).

But you know what? I wouldn’t change it because it pushed me to figure out how to find a way to get kids who hated each other to appreciate and respect each other.

And in the end, they actually appreciated that I made them respect each other ALL YEAR LONG.  


So yeah. That was pretty awesome.

And this was the best compliment I could ask for:

Thanks, Z. 🙂

I’m curious what tomorrow’s group will say.

I’ll keep you posted.


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