Communicating Your Expectations

It is not enough to have high expectations for your students; you must also let them know what these expectations are. There are many subtle and not-so-subtle ways to help kids understand your expectations. Ultimately, communicating your expectations begins on the first day and should be reinforced on a daily basis.

Methods of Communication

Here are nine methods you might use to let your students know your expectations:

  1. Get students to sign an “Achievement Contract” at the beginning of the year. The contract outlines what you expect of them and what they should expect from you.

  2. As students work, give them enough time to find answers on their own, providing only hints and ideas instead of jumping right in to tell them the correct answer.

  3. Periodically allow students to express in writing how they think they are doing in the course and what suggestions they have to make the class better.

  4. Speak to students in a positive manner at all times, stressing that you know they have the ability to learn what you are teaching.

  5. Try to get to know your students and allow them to see you as a real person; this attitude will motivate some of your students to work harder in order to please you.

  6. Remain in charge of your students as their teacher, and do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of trying to be their friend.

  7. Make your standards for assignments and activities absolutely clear by telling students exactly what you expect from them.

  8. Make sure you let all students know that they can earn a top grade in your course if they work hard enough.

  9. Promote mastery learning by allowing students to revise assignments that received low grades.

Should I communicate my expectations to my students' parents?

Definitely. Students will have a much better chance to succeed if their teachers and parents work together. Parents need to know not only what you expect of their children but also what you expect of them.

Probably the most important thing that you can do to communicate your expectations is to live up to the expectations of your students. Be consistent and fair at all times in your classroom, and you will model integrity to your students. They will better understand what is expected of them if they can see you living up to your own high expectations.

Reinforcing Expectations

Expectations must be reinforced daily. Sometimes students might need gentle reminders. At other times, however, you might need to stop the normal course of study to discuss your expectations for the students. Only through repetition and constant reminders will students' attitudes change. This reinforcement might seem redundant, but it is well worth the effort.

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