Co-creating classroom behaviour expectations

At Pakuranga College in Auckland, New Zealand, their structured professional learning programs mean staff are used to sharing and discussing evidence-based resources.

‘We are very much about gathering data. …In terms of having evidence-based research and information, that’s something that’s super important to us,’ Deputy Principal at the secondary school, Larraine Barton, says.

In 2018, when Barton held the Head of Faculty position in the Science department, she came across a Teacher magazine podcast episode, Dr Bill Rogers on starting the new year in our Behaviour Management series. She implemented some of the Rogers’ strategies in her own classroom and also shared the episode, along with its transcript, with some colleagues.

Co-creating expectations

In the podcast, Rogers says that at the start of the year, when teachers are setting up a student behaviour agreement for a positive classroom environment, ‘most teachers cover three crucial areas: the right to feel safe, not just physically but psychologically safe, and what that means; the right to fundamental respect and fair treatment of one another; and obviously the right to learn without undue and unreasonable distraction from other students, so what a learning community ought to feel like.’

Barton addressed these principles with her three classes. At the start of the year, she would ask students what a ‘good’ classroom looks like and what expectations they have, before introducing them to the three crucial areas described by Rogers.

‘I actually get the students to do the work at this point and to unpack what those look like in more detail,’ Barton shares. ‘We’ve done it on paper, like a shared brainstorm, we’ve done it as a shared Google Doc within their groups and then they feed that to the class … it just depends on the class that I’m with as to how I do that. But what’s really important is that I get their ideas and I encapsulate their ideas and the things that we agree on will make this a good classroom.

‘We posted that on our Google Classroom rather than, say, having it up on the wall. So it’s always there, it’s always accessible – these are the expectations that we have for each other. And that has been a really useful process, because it’s easy for them to then see their words, to see the things that they value and are important to them. And for them and for me to understand that we’re all on the same page, we all want the same things.’

Powerful professional development

The school’s focus on evidence-based professional development extends to the beginning teacher program, which Barton is involved in. In a meeting at the start of this school year, the beginner teachers were given three articles on the work of Rogers, including the transcript of the Teacher magazine podcast.

‘What’s really nice is that the article is there for the people that don’t want to listen to a podcast,’ she shares. 'We actually have quite a structured program of professional learning in our college. We have an hour every Friday morning for our professional learning groups … and so people are used to the idea of “here’s a reading, now let’s discuss”.

‘So they each shared what they’d got out of the particular article and the strategies that they thought were useful to them and that they either had used or would use,’ Barton shares.

‘That was really powerful because so many of the things that they had done, and are doing, are things that are directly reflected in the article. And what’s again really excellent about that, is that it’s not me, or it’s not our specialist classroom teachers telling them what to do, it’s them talking to each other about what “good” looks like. So that’s something that’s really important.’

Stay tuned: We’ll be sharing more stories of educators from across Australia who are using Teacher content in their classrooms and school communities. We love to share practical examples of how educators are using evidence-informed approaches in their own context. If you have an example of how you’ve used Teacher to support your professional practice, get in touch with the team at to share your story.

Consider the three crucial areas identified by Dr Bill Rogers. Do you address some, or all of these with your students? How could addressing these areas have a positive impact on their behaviour in the classroom?

Behaviour Management is just one podcast series from Teacher. We have hundreds of episodes in our archive from series on School Improvement, Global Education, The Research Files, Teaching Methods, Action Research, and our monthly content wrap-ups on Teacher Staffroom. Recently, we’ve published episodes on supporting teachers through a crisis, trauma informed practice in schools, identifying and managing student anxiety, and keeping students safe online. You’ll find all of these by searching ‘Teacher ACER’ on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. Make sure you subscribe to the channel so you never miss an episode.