Setting & Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations

100 Percent Technique: This will inform students that noncompliance is not an option.



For example, raising a hand for silence requires two actions from students:  (1) to raise their hand and (2) to be silent. If only some of the students raise their hands but all are silent and the teacher proceeds there is not 100 percent compliance. Use wait time to achieve compliance and inform students, “waiting on everybody.”

1. Use the least invasive form of intervention:

  • Non-Verbal Intervention: non-verbal gestures/ cues or eye contact
  • Positive Group Correction: Quick verbal reminder to the group about what students should be doing and not what they shouldn’t be doing
    • “You should be tracking the speaker.”
  • Anonymous Individual Correction: Quick verbal reminder to the group that not everyone is where they need to be.
    • “I still need three people. You know who you are. I need two people.”
  • Private Individual Correction: When and if you have to use names, seek to correct behavior privately and quietly. Walk by the off-task student’s desk, lean down to get close to the student, and use a voice that preserves as much privacy as possible; tell the student what to do quickly and calmly. 
    • First Warning: “Quentin, I’ve asked everyone to track me, and I need to see you doing it too.”
    • Second Warning with a Consequence: Again you want to do this privately. “Quentin, I need you to track me so you can learn. I’m going to have to move your card to yellow. Now please show me your best.”
  • Lightning-Quick Public Correction: At times you will be forced to make corrections of individual students during public moments. Your goal is to limit the amount of time a student is “onstage” for something negative and focus on telling the student what to do right. Merely stating a student’s name does not provide the student with guidance about how to meet your expectations. 
    • “Quentin, I need your eyes.”
    • “Quentin, I need your eyes. Looking sharp, back row! Thank you Quentin.”
  • Consequences: In the long run it makes the teacher stronger when he or she only occasionally uses external consequences. If a situation cannot be addressed quickly and successfully without a consequence, the consequence must be given so instruction is not interrupted. Deliver the consequence quickly and in the least invasive, least emotional manner. Ideally a teacher should have a scaled series of consequences.

A common misconception is that ignoring misbehavior is the least invasive form of intervention. But ignoring misbehavior is the most invasive form of intervention because it becomes more likely that the behavior will persist and expand. The goal is to address behavior quickly-the first time it appears.

2. Rely on Firm, Calm Finesse: Commanding obedience and compliance is an exercise in purpose, not power. Students need to follow directions so that they are assured of having the best chance to succeed. It’s not really about you in the end; it’s about them and their path to college and career readiness.

  • “I need your eyes on me so you can learn,” is a more effective statement than, “I asked for your eyes on me because when I ask you to do something, I expect you to do it.”
  • 100 Percent teachers stress the universality of expectation and are strategically impersonal so that students do not feel like they are being picked on and to remind students that your decisions are not personal.
    • “I need everyone’s eyes stresses universality better than, “I need your eyes, Trevor.”

3. Emphasize Compliance You Can See:

  • Invent ways to maximize visibility: Ask for eyes or ask for pencils down and eyes on you.
  • Be seen looking: Every few minutes scan the room to ensure everything is as it should be and narrate your scan, “Thank you, Peter. Eyes right on me, front row.”
  • Avoid marginal compliance: Ensure all students comply accurately
  • Leverage the power of unacknowledged behavioral opportunities:  Have students practice following the teacher’s directions through Call and Response or Active Listening Techniques.
  • Call and Response: The teacher asks a question and a response is required by the entire class in unison. This provides an opportunity to practice compliance.
  • Active Listening Techniques: White boards, flash cards, thumbs-up and thumps-down

Lemov, Doug (2010). Teach like a champion: 49 techniques that put students on the path to college. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *