How to Establish Schoolwide Values & Expectations in a Community Circle
Updated: Jun 14
Schools are communities, places where our behavior impacts others in a very real way. Both PBIS & Restorative Practices promote the establishing and frequently revisiting of our community values and behavioral expectations in a collaboratively with both students AND staff.
“The more we are concrete, clear, and explicit about our expectations for positive behavior, the more we nurture, nourish, and promote that behavior within our culture.”
Kay Pranis, "Circle Forward: Building a Restorative School Community"
It seems like a herculean task to ask every single person in a school to contribute to your schoolwide expectations. However, the Restorative Practice of the community circle is an excellent way to intentionally work together to establish community values and behavioral expectations. Restorative Practices ideals emphasize that “rules” established by authority figures are less likely to create the positive community we are seeking. Instead, our standards for how we interact should be co-created (WITH) so everyone feels like they contributed. When we adults show respect for students' needs and listen to their voice, we are modeling to them how to respect the needs of others. As students help in creating schoolwide and classroom expectations, they get to experience mutual respect and shared power.
The downloadable circle script is designed to be used with staff in a faculty meeting and in classrooms with students to establish values and expectations in a collaborative way. The next step is to condense the lists of values and behavioral expectations generated by staff and students into a comprehensive Behavioral Expectation Matrix. The Matrix is a foundational document for PBIS Implementation as it clearly articulates at a glance, the expectations, and standards of how we conduct ourselves in each area of the school (example of an Online Classroom Behavior Expectation Matrix). Finally, once we establish the expectations, we teach them directly to students throughout the year. These expectations will become powerful resources to draw from when difficulties arise. Additionally, teachers may compile their classroom expectations and create a Classroom Behavioral Expectation Matrix that is specific to their class (note: classrooms should echo the schoolwide values).
For schools that previously created values and expectations, the beginning of each school year is a good opportunity to revisit and update them. Feel free to adapt this script as needed to meet the needs of your staff and students (suggested adaptations for younger primary students are in red).