Teaching classroom rules and expectations has always been a SUPER important part of launching the new school year positively. I always spend time setting collaborative classroom rules , practicing collaborative problem solving, and building classroom routines.

This year feels a little bit different, with possibilities of varied, changing, and new visions of what your classroom might look like.

Whichever model your school chooses, here are some thing practices that remain the same:

  1. Make it collaborative- Involve the students in discussion of expectations. Help your students understand and contribute to why these expectations are important.
  2. Explicit instruction (with examples and non examples) – provide pictures,  provide sorting activities etc. This way your students really know and understand what’s expected.
  3. Modeling and practice- provide examples for students at the start of lessons or transitions. Then make practicing these expectations your objective! Remember they can model for one another as well.
  4. Feedback – provide students feedback for their behaviors and acknowledge positive behavior immediately and regularly.

We’ve talked a lot about how the steps for teaching classroom expectations are the same, but we know there is a place where they diverge. Here’s how you might apply these methods to different school models.

IN person Instruction (NO social distancing rules)

When you’re teaching rules in any of the models really, these types of activities are fun and

Start with posters and graphics:

A picture really is worth 1000 words. Seeing the example of the behavior will help students to understand what the behavior looks like.

Follow up with an emergent reader:

Emergent readers are perfect printable paper copies that you can provide to each student. They can color them in, circle words they know, and practice reading. The ones I’ve created are patterned so even very young children can “read them”. These are also great for if you’r socially distancing because you don’t have to share books.

And… remember those posters? They match the rules in the reader, so you can even make your own read aloud type booklet.

Sort Away:

Cut and paste individual or group sorting (or both!) are great ways to get students to identify which behaviors follow classroom rules and which don’t. It also helps students to practice the skills of sorting, cutting, and pasting.



Just like you would assess any other standard or concept, a response activity is a great way to see what students know about what’s expected. This freebie is a back to school “role model” response booklet.

In Person Instruction with Social Distancing:

You can still complete the same types of engaging activities that you would with in person instruction, but there will be some differences.

For example, sharing is something my class normally encourages with our classroom expectations, however this year, sharing is not really ideal with many of the social distancing guidelines. I’ve also added some rules like Wash your hand and Keep a distance.

Engaging activities like an emergent reader, sorting, and posters can help (just like I’ve typically taught the rules) can still be done!

Here’s the updated social distancing classroom rules resource I’ve created with precautions and usual classroom rules in mind. I’ve included a digital version of the posters and sort so you can do these activities on the interactive white board by the teacher where students might be able to see the board from their seats.







The individual cut and paste activities and booklets are actually perfect for social distancing since they don’t need to be shared and each student can read the patterned text in order to practice remembering the rules.

Not teaching some of these rules? In this resource you can just leave out pages you don’t want to use or that have rules that don’t align with your plan! Easy peasy! 


Distance Learning/ Online Learning/ Virtual Classroom:

Believe it or not, even though distance learning feels so different, we can teach the rules and expectations just the same way! Don’t forget to slow down to model and practice them just like you would if you were in school! It’s worth the time investment for sure and it will actually probably put everyone at ease when they know what to expect!

This resource includes a very similar set of materials to the other school rules sets, but with distance learning and virtual meeting expectations.