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Student Expectations

Within the last couple of weeks, I was teaching in a classroom when I found this row of expectations going across the classroom. This was the first string of expectations, but there were more, maybe 10 in all.


There were so many things that bothered me about these signs. The only one that I thought was necessary for students, and people in general, all of the time was the one that said “respectful.” The rest I thought were useful at times, but were more judgement calls. I don’t need students sitting in their seats all the time. In fact, I often prefer them to be out of their seats and incorporate many activities that require them to move. This movement gets their blood flowing and ultimately gets them thinking more.

Ultimately though, I think my problem was that success, according to these signs, stems from being compliant, obedient, sitting down, and doing as you are asked. While this works for some, very few people achieve success in this way. In fact, the people who achieve the most success are the ones who break out of the mold!

I didn’t want to just walk away and point out all that is wrong with the signs though. That’s why I only photographed a few. They got me thinking…..

What do I want from my students?
What do students need to be successful?
How do we define student success?

Here’s where I think we go from here. In my view, students are successful if they are making progress to becoming the best version of themselves that they can be. Mistakes happen. Setbacks happen. But as long as a person has a goal and is improving, even if incrementally, they are being successful. And if for some reason a person isn’t being successful, that’s the time to rally and help them work through whatever it is that is holding them back.

Here are my tips for how students, and people in general, can achieve success:

  • be respectful
  • set goals
  • work hard and work smart
  • come with an open mind
  • think
  • ask questions
  • try things, be prepared to fail, get up, and try again
  • learn from every opportunity, good or bad
  • collaborate
  • show gratitude to those who paved the way before you or helped you along the way

This is my list for now. It seems incomplete, like I’m either missing something or haven’t quite got it all in there. If you think of something I’m missing, please add it in.

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