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Classroom Behavior Strategies

Promoting Positive Behaviors in the Classroom

We are committed to the wellness of individuals and our commitment to engage students in the learning process guide our planning for a positive, effective learning environment. In the classroom, faculty and students will need to serve as positive models of healthy and positive behavior in service to others. 

To support the development of a classroom environment in which faculty and students demonstrate best practices for teaching and learning, a process of communication, modeling, and accountability is recommended.

Steps for Implementing and Upholding Positive Behaviors

  1. Expect
  2. Communicate
  3. Model
  4. Account for actions

Step 1: Set Clear and Consistent Expectations

Educate yourself about the most up-to-date Classroom Conduct Guidelines.

Reflect on your personal comfort level and anxieties connected to managing behaviors in the classroom. Review the Student Conduct expectations and consider what behaviors you hope to see in your students that would help you feel the classroom is a positive environment for learning (these behaviors will help reduce students' anxieties too).  

Faculty may need to reconsider expectation statements and affirm commitments to the formation of a positive classroom environment for learning. Create expectation statements for your syllabus, Canvas, and class communication.

Positive Classroom Sample Syllabus Statement (suggested/optional):

Consistent with Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community to “create a community that nurtures learning and growth for all its members: we affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding.” In this class, you are welcomed to an in-person learning experience to challenge yourself through connections with the course materials, faculty, and fellow students. When you are engaged in class activities, here are some strategies I encourage you to use: respectful listening, active notetaking, appropriate use of class time including on-time arrival, asking thoughtful questions in a respectful manner, and proactive participation. If you have concerns about the learning environment, please contact the instructor.   

Sample Expectation Statements (revise to meet your course needs)

As a student in the class, you should expect:

  • all class participants to uphold Virginia Tech's Principles of Community
  • to follow behavior guidelines for the learning and engagement of others and our community.
  • all class participants to communicate respectfully with others using language that conveys tolerance, empathy, and compassion.

Step 2: Communicate Early and Frequently

Proactive communication with students is important to establish behavioral expectations prior to class and to maintain compliance with those expectations throughout the semester. Here are some recommendations for communicating proactively:

  • Add expectations to your syllabus. 
  • Frame expectations as the ways in which students are expected to help each other as learners. 
  • Send Canvas Announcements informing students of updates to expectations.

Step 3: Model Behavior and Plan for Positive Student Behaviors

Recommendations for the First Day of Class after a Change in Policies/Procedures
With proactive communication, you should expect students to arrive to class prepared to meet your expectations for supporting a healthy learning environment. Here are a few tips and ideas:

TIP: Tell the student what you WANT THEM TO DO, rather than what you want them NOT TO DO.
: Direct student behavior using a calm, level voice. Be direct and factual in describing the behavior they should be exhibiting.
: At the end of class, thank them for respecting others with healthy behaviors and remind them of our commitment to community.

Take time during class to review recommendations and expectations. Share why you chose to have in-person class time and why it is important to you and to student learning for everyone to engage with class, as designed.

Show Gratitude for Appropriate Behavior
Appreciate students for using positive behaviors and taking responsibility for the learning environment. Take time during class, as well as through regular electronic communication, to thank students for upholding your expectations for a positive learning environment.

Step 4: Hold Students Accountable for their Actions

We hope all students will evidence respectful behaviors consistent with the Principles of Community; however, in the case of a student who refuses to uphold our Principles of Community, the Division of Student Affairs, Student Conduct recommends a tiered intervention strategy:

  • Ask students to change their behavior.
  • Refer to Student Conduct.

Contact Student Conduct at or 540-231-3790 if you have questions or concerns.