High Performance Requires High Expectations

By on September 23, 2012

Whether you are a new teacher or a veteran, setting high expectations is the key to students' academic performance. By now, we are seeing our students' true colors. They are comfortable and feeling confident. Students are talking--and talking. Homework assignments are completed less frequently, and students are beginning to take their sick days--sometimes multiple times a week. (I always find it interesting how illness is brought on by due dates). I don't mean to speak critically about our students. They are our kids. And we love them. But like all children, they want to push the limits and test the waters. 

That is why this is the most critical time in the school year. In some ways, students are formatively assessing us. They want to know what they can get away with and what we truly care about. If we get these next few weeks right, we will have a much easier time teaching our students. If we let up, we will be working up hill until June. Success starts with setting and maintaining high expectations for behavior and academic work. Here are some "Do's" to keep in mind.

  • Restate and model your expectations and hold students accountable
  • Set the tone and create a safe environment for learning
  • Challenge students to think every day
  • Assign complex texts and sophisticated writing tasks
  • Encourage your students to be their best, to do their best work
  • Set the expectation that all students will communicate and learn together
  • Look for student models to share with the class and celebrate success frequently

Remember, all students do better with structure and clear expectations. They will learn more if we expect more. Hold them to a standard of excellence and they will become excellent. They will surely groan, but they will thank you for expecting so much of them.

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