Setting High Expectations for Your Students and Two Tips on How to Do It!

How do you show you really care about your students? There are many ways but one main way is through setting high expectations! If I don’t care about you, I don’t necessarily set high expectations. My attitude is “oh, bless their heart, they’ll never amount to much anyway, why bother?” No ma’am, no sir.

Regardless of their accommodations, past records, past behavior and mistakes, race, background, and more…welcome to my class. You are capable, your past is not welcome here unless you learn from it, and you will learn today. Check out these tips.

Tip #1: Don’t let them get away with the bare minimum:

A number of years ago, I had a student named Demarcus (not real name). Demarcus was very intelligent but dyslexic. I had compassion for Demarcus but I did not pity him…I had a coworker who pitied him in every way. That was dangerous. Demarcus got away with everything including poor work quality. She doted on him and expected little. I knew Demarcus could do WAY better. Pity was her way of trying to compensate for not really being able to identify with him.

He got away with so much in his other class, he resented me…because I expected his best. I was fully aware of his dyslexia accommodations and followed them, however, I knew what he was capable of. When he halfway completed an assignment and turned it in with a Cheshire cat grin, I just as joyfully handed him the paper back. “No, sir, this is not acceptable in my class and you can do better.”

He looked at me like a rat that fell from the ceiling tile. Why? In his other class, writing his name, and writing a few half-written sentences was acceptable and deserved a back pat. No, that’s unacceptable…and I’m not budging.

Do not let your students do the bare minimum. Why? This sounds extreme but if you do, you are setting them up for failure. Demarcus was bright and I could see Demarcus becoming a doctor or engineer. His other teacher saw a poor kid who was just a victim of his surroundings and would probably end up in the prison system or something else not pleasant. Plluueeezzee.

To me…”Calling Dr. Demarcus!” I expect your best in all you do in this classroom from behavior to grades. You will grow and make mistakes and that’s okay but I am not here to play. I truly believe the best in you.”

Tip #2 YOU set the example:

Do not set high expectations without setting an example. You can’t have a chaotic classroom, lack of classroom management, fake admiration for your kids and expect them to rise to the occasion. They won’t and I won’t blame them one bit.

NO teacher is perfect…not one. I am always learning, but at some point, I need you to understand that you will need to rise to the occasion. Either this is a calling or a paycheck.

If it’s the latter, you need to peacefully rethink your career or rethink your teaching approach. I don’t know how many teachers who almost gave up after a horrible year then ended becoming really good teachers.

Many times, many of my students rose to the occasion because they sensed my sincere passion for their achievement and wellbeing. They saw my Word Wall being updated (most weeks). They saw the setup of the room. They saw me put positive comments on their essays and the board.They saw me stay late and come early. They saw the way I demanded respect AND the respect I gave back to them. They saw me mess up a lesson. They saw my honest effort. Kids can smell fake and lazy a mile away. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

If you strive in excellence, it is easy to set high expectations. Believe the best in your students no matter what and shoot for the moon. You and your kids just might fall amongst the stars.

Write below ways you set high expectations in your class!

Teach in the Light,


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