10 Student Expectations That All Schools Should Consider

10 Student Expectations That All Schools Should Consider

We’re big on student voice at Noble Impact. Students are the key constituents in the education system, so it only makes sense to include them in the conversation about their education. Right? Well, that’s not always the case. Students are often on the receiving end of the “expectations” conversation.

As most schools around the nation wrap up for summer, I’d urge teachers and school leaders to think about student voice and how they can collect and meet the expectations that their students have of their education. Rather than schools setting expectations for student behavior, achievements, and proficiency, why don’t we all take a step back and make sure that our students’ expectations are truly being heard and met.

This week, I was reminded of the “10 Expectations” list produced by Big Picture Learning, a network of schools that was established in 1995 with the sole mission of putting students directly at the center of their own learning. This list consists of 10 expectations it believes all students should have of their schools. By my gauge, it’s certainly plausible that every student deserves and should have access to an engaging learning environment marked by these expectations.

If you’re looking for a dose of inspiration on what a student-centered learning approach looks like, watch Big Picture Learning’s “10 Expectations” video below. I’ve also included a transcript of the 10 expectations for easy future reading.

The “10 Expectations” that students should have of their schools, as outlined in the above Big Picture Learning video, include:

  1. Relationships. Am I just another face in the classroom, a test score? Or do my teachers know about me and my interests and talents? Do the teachers help me form relationships with peers and adults who might serve as models and coaches?
  2. Relevance. Is it just a series of hoops to jump? Or is the work relevant to my interests? Do my teachers help me understand how my learning contributes to my community and to the world?
  3. Time. Am I expected to learn at a constant pace decided by the teacher, or can I learn at my own pace? Is there time for learning to be deep as well as broad?
  4. Timing. Do all students have to learn things in the same sequence, or can I learn things in an order that fits my learning style or interests?
  5. Play. Is there always pressure to perform? Or do I have opportunities to explore and make mistakes and learn from them, without being branded as a failure? Do I have opportunities to tinker and make guesses?
  6. Practice. Do we learn something and then immediately move on to the next skill? Or can we engage in deep and sustained practice of those skills we need to learn?
  7. Choice. Am I just following the same path as every student? Or do I have real choices about what, when, and how I will learn and demonstrate my abilities?
  8. Authenticity. Is my work just a series of diddos? Or is the learning and work I do considered significant outside of school by experts, family, and employers?
    Does the community recognize the value of my work?
  9. Challenge. Is it just about completing assignments? Or do I feel appropriately challenged? Am I addressing high and meaningful standards of excellence?
  10. Application. Is my learning all theoretical? Or do I have opportunities to apply what I’m learning in real world settings?

Does your school incorporate student voice and expectations? If so, share your methods for student inclusion in the comments below.

What About Miguel? The Story Of A Student Left Behind And What To Do About It

What About Miguel? The Story Of A Student Left Behind And What To Do About It

A few weeks ago I had the chance to grab breakfast with an Arkansas teacher’s union leader. I chose an adult breakfast of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. As my colleague waited for her egg and sausage sandwich to cool down, we began our trek down an unlikely conversation. A simple breakfast date between two educators may not seem extraordinary, except as education leaders navigating a constantly swinging political pendulum, charter people (I guess that’s me) and union people aren’t supposed to get along.

We agreed to meet to share ideas, and as she told me about her work advocating for teachers and her love for her students, I soon realized I was dining with an ally.

She told me about her own challenges as a young mother trying to earn a college degree. Later as a special education teacher, she stepped up to the role of a political advocate for teachers. I asked her what made her take on such an incredibly tough job of navigating adult politics. It was her students, of course!

I shared a story about Miguel, one of my former 9th grade students on the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas. At our school with a 55% drop out rate, showing up each day and attempting to graduate was a struggle for most students.

Miguel spent many lunch periods in my classroom making up work he quietly refused to do in class. This soft-spoken young man, hiding behind long bangs and shrugging shoulders, would sit in the last chair nearest the door — always positioned for a quick escape. After a few weeks, he began to tell me about things. All of the men in his family were behind bars. And when I asked why he wouldn’t work in my class, he at once became the teacher. He looked me in the eye and explained that he didn’t belong in my class.

To illustrate his point, Miguel told me that earlier in the day, during English class, when the teacher used the word “paragraph,” he had no idea what she was talking about. He believed he had been passed on to the next grade each year since the 6th grade because no one wanted to deal with him. There is no happy ending to my story about Miguel. He, like countless others, disappeared from class during the school year.

I shared this story with my colleague to highlight why we needed to create a new conversation about how to advocate for teachers and students. Just as my friend in the union wants to make sure teachers are protected, we also need serious dedication towards serving all students. We shouldn’t need to spend valuable time and resources to protect dedicated and effective teachers. Instead, we must trust them, compensate them and get out of their way.

Rather than politics, we must start a new conversation about the value of the teaching profession and reinforcing educational systems that prioritize the voice of all students. We must find, cultivate and support teachers who are leaders in their profession. Being an excellent teacher is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I know many of them and in a school full of excellent teachers who are supported and trusted, Miguel’s plight would be intolerable.

So, thank you to the leaders in education, like my new ally, who are willing to focus on what’s important for our students.

This post originally appeared on Arkansas Money & Politics, where Trish contributes as a local entrepreneur.

Stop Asking Kids What They Want To Be When They Grow Up

Stop Asking Kids What They Want To Be When They Grow Up

Educators have an impossible job: preparing students for an unknown job market. Think about that for a minute. No economist in the world can tell a child what the job market is going to look like after they graduate college. Jaime Casap, the Global Education Evangelist at Google, often challenges people to STOP asking kids what they want to be when they grow up and start asking them what problems they want to solve. I couldn’t agree more. Entrepreneurship is a problem-solving muscle that can only be developed by pairing theory with practice. That’s why Noble Impact partnered with Up Global to produce the first-ever High School Startup Weekend, a 54-hour learn-by-doing educational experience.

Noble Impact scholar Anfernee Hawkins shares his story of High School Startup Weekend


The future of education will not look like the linear process we have known for generations. Everyone agrees that it should be personalized to the individual. For that to happen, we need an ecosystem approach, one that gives students a platform for their ideas to be heard.

In the Kauffman Foundation’s research on the most successful entrepreneurship educational programs in the U.S., they discovered 7 common elements within thriving ecosystems.

7 Common Elements in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Admittedly, the Kauffman Foundation’s research (CLICK HERE for white paper) focuses on higher education, but their conclusion on the common elements applies accross the board and can inform high school administrators on how to strategically engage the community.

Experiential progamming like Startup Weekend plays a critical role in the ecosystem and compliments the theory-based knowledge being shared in the classroom. But even more importantly, it gives students an opportunity to act on their ideas and discover their voice.

“If you would have asked me a month ago, ‘What could you do to change the world?’ I wouldn’t be able to answer that at all. But now I’ve learned that anyone can make a difference no matter what age, what size, what color, what anything.”
– High School Sophomore in Noble Impact Course

Another important reason to advocate for an ecosystem approach is the student engagement cliff. According to Gallup’s annual survey, students become less engaged with each school year. By the time they reach high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Even more disturbing is the growing disinterest in course offerings in key occupational areas.

Percentage Change of HS Grads Earning Credits in Occupational Areas

Education shouldn’t start and stop within the four walls of a classroom. It should be designed on top of a bridge of engagement between the classroom and community. Therefore, if formal education is going to play a significant role in solving the youth unemployment crisis, it needs to start incorporating additional elements within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, giving students an opportunity to develop their problem-solving muscles in preparation for an unknown job market.


This post originally appeared on OpenIDEO, where Eric contributed his thoughts as a guest author.