Setting High Expectations in the Classroom


Having high expectations for students is something all teachers should do in order for students to thrive. When teachers have high expectations for students, students will start to have high expectations for themselves. Through the course of our learning this week we watched and analyzed three videos that each showed a different perspective on setting high expectations for students. The first video showed educator, Donna Migdol, working with 5th grade STEM students to make roller coasters. The second video had educator, Crystal Chen, teaching 3rd graders math in Chinese. The last video was educator, Roxi Shayne, teaching 9th grade students with the Whole Brain teaching method. While each teacher did a wonderful job educating their students, each video also showed different ways that teachers can set high expectations in their classroom that are attainable as well as challenging.

Academic Expectations-

Within all three of the classrooms it was evident that the teachers all held high academic expectations for their students. In Ms. Migdol’s class, student’s communicated and collaborated together building strong partnerships. The students seemed excited about the material and eager to try out what they had learned and practiced. Students also seemed engaged and not a single student seemed off task or distracted.There seemed to be a level of responsibility that was put upon the students to take their learning into their own hands.  Ms. Migdol’s also did a wonderful job with tying in the curriculum to a broader theme, incorporating budgets, technology, and working with limited constraints.

In the second video with the Chinese instruction of math for 3rd graders, the lesson delivery was a bit different, with only whole group instruction shown. In addition to watching the video, helpful cultural information was gathered through the article elaborating on the differences in how Chinese students are taught. In this video it was harder to see the high academic expectations being taught with the exception of 3rd grade students learning math in Chinese, which seems like it would be quite challenging. Although the teaching style in China lends itself more to whole group instruction it was difficult to get a sense of what the students were supposed to be learning and in which ways was the teacher hoping for engagement. Overall with this video I get the sense that the students do have high academic expectations because of the content they are learning it did not seem as evident of the high expectations from the educators instruction though.

The academic expectations in Ms. Shayne’s class not only seemed to be high but also conveyed a sense of the whole team, the whole body and the whole brain (hence the name).

Behavior Expectations-

In Ms. Migdol’s class behavior expectations were just as high as academic expectations. Students seemed to need very little reminder of what to do. Within their small groups each person had a job which gave them more responsibility while also serving a higher purpose of accountability.

The behavior expectations seemed a bit different in the second video as compared to the first. Although the video was much shorter the part that stood out to me was the frequency in which students called out without being called on. At least in my own classroom a standard behavior I teach and expect from my students is to raise their hand and wait to be called on in order to respect those around us. Im not sure if that behavior was something the teacher allows or not, however in my own classroom, it is made clear that hands are always to be raised in order to ask a question or share unless I let them know everyone can answer at once.

Although brief the third video was a great example of behavior expectations as well as procedures and norms. The class ran so smoothly that it was only natural that learning was occurring. I incorporate elements of whole body teaching into my own lessons. I find with kindergarteners and younger children in general this is a great method for not only conveying material but getting the material to stick. It was refreshing seeing this run in such an efficient way.

Norms and Procedures-

In the first video, with Ms. Migdol, it is extremely evident that norms and procedures were made very clear to students at the beginning of the school year. Students showed that they not only know how to work together but that they can learn from one anothers ideas in a collaborative and kind way. I was amazed at the conversations and ideas 5th graders were able to come up. Students were well versed in the teachers lingo with activities like “chime” as well. Students were respectful to each other as well as their teacher too.

In the second video, with Educator Chen it was a bit harder to tell when the norms and procedures were for the class. The educator seemed fast paced, and as is natural with other languages, seemed to speak very quickly. The children all seemed to know that they were supposed to stay on the carpet during the instruction. It was less clear the preferred way for students to answer as there was both students calling out and raising their hands.

Like the first video, Roxi Shanyes’ classroom ran very efficiently which seems to come from teaching explicit expectations from the very beginning. Students knew exactly what do to and were on task while also working collaboratively with peers. Students echoed the teacher and actively participated. This classroom and the whole brain method seem to be effective in developing high expectation thinkers.

-Megan Thompson



(2012). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from

Chen, C. (2011, June 13). Retrieved November 26, 2017, from

K. W. (2017, November 23). Explainer: What Makes Chinese Maths Lessons so Good? Retrieved November 26, 2017, from

Shayne, R. (2011, May 31). Whole Brain Teaching Richwood High – The Basics. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from

Team, G. (n.d.). Roller Coaster Lab. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s