August 10, 2020

Setting Expectations for Teacher Growth

Teachers are often reminded that setting expectations for students is critical to maximizing student success. Here is how Emma McDonald presents the importance on the Inspiring Teachers’ website.

Setting expectations is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our students on the first day of school. Unfortunately, many teachers often think of setting expectations as simply going over the school rules. It is so much more than this! Our expectations for students include not only the rules for the school and classroom, but also what we expect our students to do each and every day.Expectations may include things such as honesty, integrity, neatness, being prompt, striving for personal best, and cooperation with others. Other expectations may include what you want students to do when entering the classroom, leaving the classroom, requesting a break or hall pass, sharpening pencils or getting supplies, turning in homework, working as a group, or taking a test. Too often these expectations are assumed on our part and never explained or outlined to students. How can we expect our students to meet our guidelines and set procedures if we never communicate them?

Employers need to communicate expectations to maximize employee performance and organization success. From an article How to Communicate Employee Expectations:

High morale among employees goes hand in hand with high productivity. One way to keep morale high is to ensure that your staff has a realistic idea of what is expected. From the interview of a potential new hire to communication with a long-term employee you must know how to communicate your company’s expectations for job performance.

Hayes Mitzell writing for National Staff Development Council in the Spring 2010 issue of The Learning System (page 2) suggests that when administrators are interviewing teacher candidates they should go beyond the assumption that a teacher will participate in whatever professional development the school requires. He suggests we might share the following expectations for the candidate to consider:

We expect you…

…to develop intellectually. You should keep learning more about the content you teach and how to engage students more successfully in learning that content.

… to engage your colleagues in figuring out how to improve classroom instruction, curriculum, assessment, and results.

…to seek out and test new ideas from within and outside the school.

…to support your colleagues in their learning with your classroom door open for observation.

…to be committed to the learning of your peer’s students taking collective responsibility for all students in the school.

…to inform us whenever the system gets in the way of your intellectual development or that of your students.

While Hayes Mizell has posed these as interview expectations for candidates to consider before joining your staff, it strikes me that they would be worthy reflection points to share. Perhaps in a welcome back to school letter to teachers. Perhaps at a faculty meeting with small group discussions. Perhaps in a conference before building a professional growth plan.

As school leaders, we should consider how we (what actions?) communicate these expectations in daily school life.

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