Communications of High Expectations

2. Communication of High Expectations

"When a teacher expresses sympathy over failure, lavishes praise for completing a simple task, or offers unsolicited help, the teacher may send unintended messages of low expectations."

-- Kathleen Serverian-Wilmeth (*)


All students should receive the consistent message that they are expected to attain high standards in their school work. This message must be delivered by all that are involved in students' academic lives, that is: teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, and other school personnel. Teachers should understand students' behavior in light of the norms of the communities in which they have grown. They should respect all students as learners with valuable knowledge and experience.


Effective and consistent communication of high expectation helps students develop a healthy self-concept (Rist, 1971). It also provides the structure for intrinsic motivation and fosters an environment in which the student can be successful.


  1. Communicate clear expectations
    • Be specific in what you expect students to know and be able to do
  2. Create an environment in which there is genuine respect for students and a belief in their capability
    • Encourage students to meet expectations for a particular task
    • Offer praise when standards are me


Rist, C. (1971). Student social class and teacher expectations: The self-fulfilling prophecy in ghetto education. Challenging the myth: The schools, the Blacks, and the poor (Reprint Series No. 5). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review.