7 Ways To Set Expectations

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Teacher Expectations

Fabian Darku

Fabian Darku is a Lecturer in Further Education. He specialises in Teaching and Learning and Further Education Sport courses. He has a drive to maintain high learner expectations and invigorates learners to produce positive outcomes for progress. Fabian is an avid reader of educational blogs...
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How can teachers consistently set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge students?

Our role as educators can seem like mission-impossible. Teachers have a clear idea of what constitutes high expectations, yet upholding them in any classroom can be a never-ending struggle.

Here are 7 ways to inspire, motivate and challenge our students:

1. Differentiate between inspiration, motivation and challenge

Teachers’ expectations can be described as three-fold, with these aspects below guiding learning and progress:

  • Inspiration and generating interest in a topic.
  • Motivation and laying foundations to remain on-task.
  • Challenge towards achieving maximum capabilities.

Griffith and Burns (2012) highlight that when challenge is calibrated to stretch learners, it enhances perseverance skills. Therefore, teachers must consider each of the above elements in any lesson by consolidating facts that are purposeful to learning. It is not realistic to have all three components in each lesson, but if a teacher aims for regular application, expectations can rise.

2. Motivate ourselves to motivate them!

Teachers must be self-motivated to show that they are genuinely concerned about student progress. Our self-reflection must be solution-based to remain on track with setting expectations. Sherrington (2017) suggests that high expectations contribute to a climate conducive for effective learning.

3. Inspiration + innovation = independence

Teachers should foster interest in a topic that resonates with students. Then, they are increasingly likely to seek to build upon what has inspired them. Gravells and Wallace (2013) suggest that the turning point is when students become intrinsically motivated rather than through fear of sanctions.

4. Increase ‘end-goal awareness’

Would the world’s best sports performers still be as motivated on a daily basis if they were not in a league or cup competitions? Students are no different.

Teachers must strive towards setting goals that students can pitch themselves against and that we as teachers can monitor. Rossa (2014) highlights the need to develop skills for employment in conjunction with a student’s aims to pass the course.

5. Can fun and high-expectations co-exist?

If teachers neglect to inspire our students, we risk creating an expanding list of those disregarding our lessons. Wallace (2017) suggests that students may lack motivation because they feel that a teacher cannot be bothered to plan! If planning is linked to high self-expectations, teachers then avoid penalising ourselves.

6. Share expectations with colleagues and students’ home contacts

Teachers must proactively seek to support a school’s vision and values. They must also seek to communicate with the student’s home on a regular basis. To create transparency, we should ensure all supporting networks are aware of teacher-expectations. Sherrington (2017) promotes the idea that consistent expectations and routines ensure classroom management is understood and adhered to.

7. Acknowledge students’ improvements

Teachers want students to feel valued and appreciated in their classroom. Positive phone calls home and rewards can gain some initial trust with students and instil expectations. However, James (2016) implies that rewards can work in the short-term, but must be coupled with a long-term drive towards independent learning. Griffith and Burns (2014) suggest that students feel threatened and withdraw from tasks pitched too high.

If we balance the bar correctly, students will expect to be inspired, motivated and challenged. If we fail, teachers risk students shutting down and losing confidence. The power is in our hands and we must not give up on them.

Providing regular feedback and praise will show we want to maintain expectations for all ability levels.

14 thoughts on “7 Ways To Set Expectations

  1. Rewards are not bad but when students are inspired to become intrinsically motivated, they themselves pick up new challenges and that is long-term.

  2. I believe all teachers can strive to make lessons fun and also to set high expectations. This will make them more enthused about lessons. Very informative though. Thanks very much.

  3. I believe when teachers go out to find out the usefulness of every topic they teach, shearing these things with the students motivates and inspires students to learn

  4. This is very educative as i’m fully equipped with ways of setting expectations in and outside the classroom.
    Thank you.

  5. Teachers need to motivate themselves before they can motivate their learners. Well noted. Thank you very much.

  6. Teachers’ need to have interest and confidence in a topic they teach and this will motivate and inspire learners to learn.

  7. In a community where teaching a particular subject like French will be difficult to achieve, teachers have to understand the skills of inspiring, motivating and challenging students and building in them the “I can do spirit” so that they gain interest in the subject.

  8. I have seen the need to set high expectations that challenge
    and motivate studentt to learn. Is very needful for learning outcomes.

  9. Acknowledgement of students improvement is one of the basic tools which can serve as a universal element in setting high expectation. This process allows students to better understand their own strength and the difference with their peers. When student improvement is acknowledged, the high expectations can be achieved through individual goals and a holistic class goals. I usually set a high expectation for my class through a formative and summative assessment. But I mostly ensure that aside the high expectation set, more attention will be given to weak student. Through this process, I can usually acknowledge the students improvement which finally reflect in the general performance as a whole.

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