Bixby is blessed to have faculty who are experts in their fields and bring unique knowledge to the classroom for children. One challenge to this model is ensuring consistent language and predictability for students throughout the transitions of the day. The Bixby teachers have been working on providing consistent and common language for expectations by adapting ideas from the Social Thinking framework, by Michelle Garcia Winner.

We place many assumptions on children when they enter a class – that they are ready and willing to learn, that they can work independently when asked, that they understand their role as a community member in the class, that they are able to filter the essential information out of a discussion, and so much more! These assumptions in different situations are also known as “hidden social rules”. As we figure out the hidden social rules, we can group social behaviors into those that are “expected” and “unexpected.”

Expected Behaviors are those things that people do or say that make other people feel calm, happy, comfortable and pleased (have green thoughts). When others feel positively, they tend to treat the person who produced the behavior more calmly and positively. In response, the person who produced the expected behavior feels better about himself or herself and others in the situation.

Unexpected Behaviors are those things that people do or say that make other people feel stressed, upset, confused, uncomfortable or weird (have red thoughts). When others feel uncomfortable, they tend to treat the person who produced the behavior more negatively. In response, the person who produced the unexpected behavior experiences these negative reactions, and tends to feel upset with themselves and possibly more discouraged about the situation.

As Winner shares, “The goal in all of this is to help our students learn to observe social situations more carefully and understand that behaviors are linked to others’ emotions, and how each of us feels about another’s behavior affects how we treat each other. At the end of the day, when we do expected behaviors it makes us feel better about ourselves.”

Our teachers have been working with students on expected and unexpected behaviors for the classroom and using this language to guide conversations and support positive behavior. Bixby’s Mission and Core Values are embedded with social emotional learning competencies. We highly value these skills as a part of developing the whole child so that they come to learn their place in the community. I invite you to explore the use of this language at home – it could be at the dinner table, when visiting friends or when talking about characters in a book. We are excited to be using this common and consistent language and look forward to sharing more with you in the upcoming months!

For more information on Social Thinking, visit

Stephanie Evans

Stephanie Evans

Learning Specialist