What Do Students Expect of Teachers?

Teachers love to tell students what is expected of the students in and out of the classroom; however, the kids very often have expectations of their teachers too. I tend to enjoy student input regarding assignments, due dates, and more, but I most appreciate their ideas regarding how I should conduct class and they are surprisingly honest and realistic when they do it.

Thus, I have an activity that allows students to provide me input; includes individual, small group, and whole class lesson segments; and concludes with a set of student expectations for me. Here are the steps:

  1. Allow the students 90-120 seconds to jot down what they expect of me as their teacher. I ask them to consider what they liked and disliked about prior teachers as a guide if they are unsure.
  2. Number off the students to form groups of 3-4. I like to have the students vocalize their numbers as I point to them (“1…2…3…” etc.); plus, I like mixing them up at the beginning of the year since they always start with those they know. This takes about a minute.
  3. Once the students are grouped by their numbers and facing one another, I have the students–when I say “go” and not before–point to the person they wish to be the recorder. Whoever has the most fingers pointed at them then stands, and I inform the student standing that he/she can then pick the recorder for the group. This gets laughs and I tell them that they should volunteer rather than choose others in the future. This takes about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Now, the students compile their lists into a single one without repeats. This typically requires 3-6 minutes.
  5. Next, I have a word processing document projected on the front board, and I ask a group to tell me one expectation on its list. I type it on the document for display and then allow the first to group to decide if we move clockwise or counterclockwise (students love choices, and it builds trust). I then take one expectation from the next group, and continue to go from group to group until all of the expectations are displayed on the document. This takes 4-10 minutes.
  6. Once all of the expectations are displayed, I ask the students to silently choose the three from the list that are most important to them as individuals. I provide 60-90 seconds for this.
  7. After this, I instruct the students to agree on a top three as a group. They have to determine the process for doing this, and they only get 3-5 minutes to agree. I like this part because I can watch to see who dominates, who goes submissive, which students work well together, and those who don’t.
  8. I then repeat the process I used in step 5 above to compile this condensed list. Generally, I have a list of 8-15 items at this point. This takes 2-4 minutes.
  9. Lastly, I give every student three votes, and we vote by show of hands which expectations should be adopted as a class. The top three vote-getters are the expectations of me from this class. This takes 3-5 minutes.
  10. However, I surprise the students the next day by showing them a compiled list of all five of my classes’ expectations, and they vote again for three. At the end of the day I take the top five vote-getters as the expectations of my students for me, and I do my best to live up to their expectations. This takes 3-5 minutes.

At the end of the day I make a poster of these expectations and post them in my room. Last year the expectations were “Doc will…”:

  • respect all students and their ideas,
  • be consistent and fair when grading assignments,
  • remain organized and structured,
  • maintain control of the students and classroom, and
  • keep grades updated regularly.

I thought they did a great job, and I’m curious what tomorrow’s results will be.

2 thoughts on “What Do Students Expect of Teachers?

  1. anpilson

    This is a fantastic idea! Student-centered, humorous, and an effective way to get students engaged. I’m going to use this!


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