Skip to content

What do you expect? Two keys for effectively leading staff and students.

Key Question #1  – What do YOU expect? 

Ask yourself this question – whether you are a teacher, administrator, paraprofessional or librarian…this could be of your staff, your students, or your aides…

Key Question #2 –  What do YOU expect of YOURSELF?

Look yourself in the mirror – what are your non-negotiables?  What threshold of expectation will you hold yourself and others accountable for?

What do I expect?

As a first year head principal it has been very important for me to set clear expectations of my staff and hold them accountable for these expectations.  I am very fortunate to work with a brilliant, dedicated staff.  When we opened the school year, we did an activity designed to focus on measurable and/or viewable activities to define ‘professional behavior’.  We developed our ‘9 collective commitments’.  They are as follows:

1.  Be on time

2. Be in hallways during passing time

3.  Update grades, AO, and eligibility (Weekly)

4.  Be a positive role model (language, tone of voice, electronic etiquette)

5.  Hold all students equally accountable (hats, cell phones, etc)

6.  Take attendance regularly (within the first 10 minutes of EVERY class)

7.  Respect and fully utilize instructional time (1st/last 10, passes, lining up)

8. Respect professional spaces (teacher desks, copiers, lounge)

9. Articulate learning targets in student-focused language

This is what I expect. These were done in a collaborative manner with my staff, not forced upon them by me or my administrative team.  I greatly appreciate my staff for their hard work and the seriousness with which they took on this task…

What do I expect of MYSELF???

This is really the meat and potatoes of this post – EVERYONE has expectations, let’s be honest.  The keys to these expectations are do YOU know what they are and have you made them clear to your students, staff, etc? How do you communicate expectations to your staff or your students?  What do you do when they don’t meet your expectations?  What do you do when they do meet expectations?

If I have set the bar and a staff member repeatedly is not meeting the threshold I have an ethical responsibility to ask two or three times for them to rise to the expectation.  Likewise in the classroom as a teacher I have a responsibility to all students in the class to hold everyone equally accountable.  This does not have to be done in a harsh manner but can be a simple and subtle reminder of what the expectation is.  Once a point has been reached, it is time for the reminder to be put in writing.  This could be a form filled out signed by teacher and administrator or an office referral in the case of a student.

When your staff and your students are meeting expectations (and certainly exceeding them) let them know!  They need the positive feedback as well, and you get even better results when you are encouraging them to keep it up.

Practical Application

Very few teachers are ineffective because of pedagogical inadequacies but several who struggle to get quality results are those who struggle with classroom management.  We have a couple, and when I ask what their expectations are, they can answer the question.  However, when asked what they expect of themselves, they don’t get it.  They have not made the connection between their unwillingness to not compromise their principles and expectations in the class and student learning.


I believe it is simple to be effective in leading people, be it students in the classroom or teachers when clear expectations are in place and then followed through on.  Holding people accountable is not about taking consequence but rather about holding to what you believe important and not accepting less than your expectations.  When you view your expectations as non-negotiable with yourself, it is much easier to have conversations with those who don’t meet your expectations.  Don’t have too many or unrealistic expectations, as you set yourself and others up for failure.

In the end, ask yourself two questions

What do YOU expect?  What do you expect of YOURSELF?  With clear answers in your own mind, you can effectively lead students and staff.


Darrin M Peppard

Published inUncategorized


  1. Rhonda

    Well put Darrin! How can we tell when our expectations may be too low or unrealistic?

  2. darrinpeppard

    I think the key is knowing what you believe in – if you stick to your beliefs and your non-negotiables, you should be ok

  3. Another thought provoking post, Darrin. I think all of education needs to seriously look at their expectations. Do we want kids to simply past the test before they graduate or do want them to develop skills that will help them the rest of their lives?
    Rhonda–I would say that if you give the students or kids the tools to reach the expectation then the bar is never too high. Saying that, however, means that you have to look at your timeline. Do you have enough time to get the students to the expectation? I read in a book called, Fire in the Mind by Kathleen Cushman, that if students don’t feel they have skills or have learned the skills then frustration sets in. When you’ve reached that level, then they’ll just shut down. Expectations can be set too low and you know they are as students will again be unmotivated; they will find tasks too easy and may not even do them as it could be considered a waste of time. I think people will also rise to expectations when they are respected and feel their best interest is being taken into account.

    • Tami

      I am so glad I took the time to read this. It fits so well with what I am teaching my kids about goals and their reading, and this gave me one more tool to use in two weeks, when we reevaluate the reading goals they just set for the new quarter. Darrin, I intend to “steal” your questions… “What do they expect of themselves?” and what I expect specifically of them and their reading. And, though I have done that each quarter already, one more time can’t hurt!

    • darrinpeppard

      Thanks for the feedback – much appreciated

      Glad to hear you enjoyed and got something to take from the blog –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar