High expectations – what they look like in my classroom


I regularly waffle on about ‘high expectations’ yet don’t define what I mean. This blog will attempt to explain how you might see it in my classroom. It’s a long list.

Firstly, I need to make it clear that high expectations at key stage 3 is not starting GCSE in year 7 nor is it getting them to do ‘more work’. 

I think the following shows how I have high expectations in my classroom:

Learning behaviours 

  • If I ask the class to do something, everyone in the class should do it, if not this will be pointed out to the individual
  • I expect them to have independence. All classes make notes and as a minimum make the notes I tell them. Most will write over and above.
  • I expect students to behave, if not they are choosing to have the sanction as set by the school policy. I give them plenty of chances to choose (two in class warnings, time out and then they are taken out of class)
  • I expect students to have manners, patience and respect me and others in the room. This includes listening, not talking when others are talking and being kind in what they say.
  • I expect them to ask for help when needed, if they don’t understand they should ask another student or me
  • I expect them to contribute in class discussion and structure this so there are no ‘I don’t knows’ to shirk giving an answer
  • I expect them to stay on task 
  • I expect them to come to my class. 
  • I expect them to come equipped (I do lend pens where necessary)
  • I expect them to look to the front, put pens down and stop talking when asked. I will wait for them all to do this and will name those that don’t manage one of them. I don’t talk when others are.
  • I expect them to know the school rules and to follow them and to expect a consequence if not

My classroom 

  • My room will be kept tidy. Everything has its place. If a child uses something, I expect them to put it back where they got it from.
  • I expect them to come in and out of my classroom sensibly.

Their work

  • I expect them to complete an appropriate amount of work for the time they’re given. Again with support where needed. If one student writes a page and another two lines, and hasn’t asked for help, I question their attitude to learning and will make them complete more in their own time. If they need further support I will do this 1-2-1.
  • I check all their work regularly. If it isn’t a good enough standard or quality of presentation, they have to edit or re-do
  • I expect them to complete their homework as specified when set. Every single bit I asked them should be done. I expect it to be in on time.
  • I give KS4 core RE clear expectations on what I need to see in their work by the end of the lesson. Almost a checklist. If not done, they will come at break to do it.

Level of work

  • I expect them to produce their best work, otherwise they’ll do it again
  • I ‘teach to the top’ which means I set the ‘highest’ task for all students to work on and expect them to try their best. Where needed, I will scaffold and put support in.
  • I expect the same of all students. I do not ‘differentiate’ for any student except for where scaffolding is needed to achieve the top level of work. I do not do anything special for pupil premium, SEN, LAC, boys, girls, black, white, tall, small children unless they need the scaffolding to achieve. 
  • You will never see in my classroom ‘must/could/should’ type activities 
  • You won’t hear me referring to levels, marks or grades on any piece of work (except in year July year 10 mock, December year 11 mock when a grade is calculated for the data collection. This is 5 minute activity for the students)
  • I don’t discuss ‘target grades’ except when I give the sticker to them to put on their book/folder as directed. I never reference it.
  • I expect a good standard of literacy (individual to a student) and where I’ve pointed out errors expect them to correct them (with support where needed)


  • All GCSE students use folders. I train them and expect them to be organised.
  • I expect their book/folder to be neat and tidy. I personally hate pieces of paper sticking out of books and make it clear to students. I support those that need it.
  • I expect them to add the title and date and underline them (as per school policy, as per key stage)
  • I expect them to take ownership of their book/folder and be proud of it.
  • I expect them to make corrections to their work wherever I have highlighted, ideally without asking or minimum when asked.
  • I expect them to complete the trackers in their book as instructed (or independently)

Overall I expect them to learn. That is my job to ensure I put in everything possible to support them in this (my other blogs outline how). So I plan for learning not for fun or for any other whim or gimmick.

You’ve probably read this and think my classroom sounds awful. It’s not! Children want structure; they get that in my classroom.

 However I have just presented one aspect of my teaching, what I expect from students. I could just as easily write about what they can expect from me, how I teach, how students perform in my classes but that’s not the point of the blog.

I’ve probably missed loads of stuff out but I think it works; of course I do, it’s my classroom.


5 thoughts on “High expectations – what they look like in my classroom

  1. I think your classroom sounds wonderful. I wish more teachers had the expectations that you do – the school and the world would be a better place and I mean that most sincerely. (This coming from a teacher’s aide.)

  2. Thanks for this, it’s exactly what I needed. I struggle with consistency and remembering what high expectations look like. These lists make it clear which points I’m hitting and which, in teaching parlance, I’m still a developing learner. Many thanks.

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