What Do Students Expect: 7 Things All Teachers Should Know

What Do Students Expect- 7 Things All Teachers Should Know

What Do Students Expect- 7 Things All Teachers Should Know

Being a thoughtful practitioner is an essential trait of an effective educator. Understanding, listening, and valuing students’ voices are all skills good professionals explore and develop.

At the beginning of the school year teachers often share with students the expectations they have. Teachers let the students know exactly what rules, procedures, routines, and the high goals s/he has set. But how often do teachers listen to the students’ expectations of them?

Sometimes it is hard to hear what students think of us as classroom leaders. I believe there is a partnership in any classroom, and that partnership should be respected and valued on both ends. I also believe in student voice, and I think it is only fair that there is a discussion about teacher AND student expectations in the classroom.

A few years ago a friend of mine posted on Facebook an image from her Pintrest. It was an image of questions and students used sticky notes to answer each question. I love back to school activities and sticky notes so this seemed like a perfect activity.

I posted the questions, the students had a certain time in which to answer any and/or all the questions they wanted, and then we discussed. I changed some of the questions to include: What can you do to keep your Dear Teacher happy? What are your goal(s) this year? What shouldn’t students do in our classroom? What do you expect Ms. P to do to help you succeed?

It was the last question that garnered responses that surprised me the most; it also received the most responses compared to the other questions. Every time I did this activity that question was answered the most. Students gave really good answers too. Don’t get me wrong, I got obvious things like be fun, no homework, and free A’s, but most responses were surprisingly thoughtful.

I decided to do this activity with the science method students I taught at a local college. I found that my undergrads and 4th grade students both shared pretty much the exact same expectations of me as an educator. Both young and older students wanted the same thing from their teacher.

I’ve collected the data and crunched the numbers. I know what students want

K. Renae P.’s Official Guide of What Students Want

7. Don’t make us feel dumb.


6.  Let us know what you want us to do and be clear about it.

Video via Movie Clips

Begin with the end in mind.  Don’t wait until the end of a unit to figure out how you want to evaluate your students. – Great Advice from K. Renae P.

 5. Do what you say you are going to do.

What had happened was

Broken promises are the worst kind of promises.K. Renae P.

 4. If something is going to change, let us know.

Clip from The Wedding Singer

 3. Help us when we need it.


 2. Give us our work back in a timely manner. Tell us something we did wrong and right. Don’t make a big deal about us being wrong.


 1. Be fair to all of us.


Life may not be fair, but your classroom should be. Students understand that fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal. They may not always like it, but they understand. Fair is fair. Students want teachers who are equitable, clear, helpful, caring, timely, and demonstrate integrity. Not a lot to ask really.

If you are in any learning environment, what do you expect of your teacher?

7 thoughts on “What Do Students Expect: 7 Things All Teachers Should Know

  1. This is excellent advice, and much-needed for all of us as we go back to school! I’m going to have to look back over this during the first days of school as I shift back to teacher mode. Sometimes I worry about going all Snape-y.

    • Hahaha!

      I just found that we all try a little harder since we all were honest agreed on expectations. We also forgive better. It really was something small that helped out my relationship with my students.

      I still get a little Snape-y and and they get Draco Malfoy-y or Bellatrix Lestrange-y. That’s how it rolls sometimes, but it works out in the end. Classroom life is hard yo! 🙂

  2. I really like #7. Time and time again when I was in school, I’d be afraid to make mistakes, to really try something and challenge myself because I was worried about looking dumb. A few times, teachers would really pick on me if I made a mistake, and it usually just made me less likely to participate. (But I was generally a pretty snotty, smarty-pants who wasn’t undeserving of that kind of treatment.) By the time I was in high school, I was just keeping my head down, doing my assignments to the letter and getting my good grades. I graduated, but it wasn’t fun, and I didn’t really learn a whole lot about myself or my peers.

    It wasn’t until college when I found myself in an environment where I was encouraged to try new things, even if they were doomed to fail. One of my favorite comments that I got on a paper from a professor was “I really like what you tried to do with this essay. It didn’t work, but…”

    • Absolutely. You are 100% right.

      Students can (and should) receive criticism as long as it is constructive. I’m not saying coddle. I’m saying don’t be a jerk. I’m glad you finally found an environment you felt safe to make mistakes. I just hate it happened in college.

    • Because of this activity I became more aware of my body language. Many of young and old students said it wasn’t always what the teacher said but how s/he said it. I get that.

      We don’t think about these things, but the kids do.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

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