Math Class Norms

Sample Math Class Norms

math norms poster
  • Norm 1: Errors are gifts that promote discussion.
  • Norm 2: Errors are important, but they are not the math.
  • Norm 3: Use multiple strategies and multiple representations.
  • Norm 4: Ask questions until ideas make sense.
  • Norm 5: Talk about each other's thinking.

Math Norms Posters

*Math norms posters are available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Learn more about norms for math class

Download Setting up Positive Norms in Math Class, by Jo Boaler: 7  messages to give to students in math class, and some suggestions from youcubed as to how to encourage them.

What is this structure?

Class norms are a set of statements of value or behavior that support active and equitable participation in the classroom. They set expectations for all members of the classroom community, adults and students. Class norms are stated in a positive tone, apply to all situations all the time, and are few in number.

Why do I use this structure?

Class norms help students, and give them opportunities, to be accountable to the community and to act on the prosocial values of responsibility, respect, fairness, caring, and helpfulness. They support equitable participation, engagement with the practices of doing math, and establishment of a positive classroom climate.

When do I use this structure?

Establish classroom norms at the beginning of the school year and continue to reinforce them every day.

How do I use this structure?

Establishing class norms:

  • Hold a discussion of what the community wants the classroom to look and feel like. The norms could come out of this discussion, or this discussion could lay the groundwork for discussion of teacher-chosen norms.
  • It takes time and effort for students to follow the norms consistently. Provide clear expectations and examples of what norms look like. Have students brainstorm and share your own powerful vision.
  • Distinguish between rules and norms. Rules, which establish classroom safety and efficiency, can support norms. Rules should be established by the teacher on the first day of school. Phrasing the rules using a positive tone contributes to a sense of community.
  • Give, or have students generate, specific examples of what the norms look like and sound like. 

Reinforcing class norms:

  • Continue to remind and reinforce the positive behaviors that you see throughout the year. Include specific examples of what the norms look like and sound like.
  • Participation Quiz and Groupwork Feedback strategies can be used when establishing the norms and, as the year continues, to support attention to the norms.
  • Encourage students to notice themselves and others supporting the norms. Celebrate positive mathematical interactions.

Math Norms are available as Posters

Download posters in English, Chinese and Spanish

This page was last updated on June 20, 2023