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Nurturing Success: The Impact of High Behavioural Expectations in Education

The Early Career Framework states teachers should learn how to... Demonstrate consistently high behavioural expectations, by applying rules, sanctions and rewards in line with school policy, escalating behaviour incidents as appropriate. High Expectations (Standard 1 – Set high expectations).

In the realm of education, teachers are not just conveyors of knowledge; they are architects of a learning environment that shapes the behavioural and academic journey of their students. This blog post delves into the crucial role of teachers in demonstrating consistently high behavioural expectations. By applying rules, sanctions, and rewards in line with school policy and escalating behaviour incidents appropriately, educators create a structured and positive atmosphere conducive to both personal and academic development. Supported by academic references, we explore the impact of such behavioural expectations on student success.

The Significance of High Behavioural Expectations

1. Fostering a Positive Learning Environment

High behavioural expectations lay the groundwork for a positive learning environment (Marzano et al., 2003). When teachers set clear standards for behaviour and consistently uphold them, they create a structured atmosphere where students feel secure, respected, and ready to engage in their learning. A positive learning environment is foundational for academic achievement.

2.  Guiding Student Conduct

Behavioural expectations serve as guideposts for students, shaping their conduct and interactions within the learning community (Emmer & Sabornie, 2015). By applying rules, sanctions, and rewards in alignment with school policy, teachers provide a framework that helps students understand the expectations and consequences of their actions. This guidance is essential for cultivating a disciplined and focused educational atmosphere.


Applying Rules, Sanctions, and Rewards in Line with School Policy

1.  Clear Communication of Rules

Effective application of behavioural expectations begins with clear communication of rules (Marzano et al., 2003). Teachers should articulate behavioural standards in a language that students understand, ensuring transparency about what is expected of them. This clarity establishes the groundwork for consistent application and creates a shared understanding among students.

2.  Appropriate Sanctions and Rewards

Applying sanctions and rewards in line with school policy requires a balanced and fair approach. Sanctions should be proportionate to the behaviour in question, promoting a sense of fairness and justice. Conversely, rewards should recognize positive behaviours, reinforcing the importance of meeting behavioural expectations. This balance contributes to a well-managed classroom where students understand the consequences of their actions and the benefits of positive behaviour (Emmer & Sabornie, 2015).

3.  Consistency in Application

Consistency is a key element in the effective application of behavioural expectations (Marzano et al., 2003). Teachers should strive to apply rules, sanctions, and rewards consistently, avoiding arbitrary or capricious decisions. Consistency creates a predictable learning environment, helping students understand the parameters of acceptable behaviour and fostering a sense of security.

Escalating Behaviour Incidents Appropriately

1.  Graduated Responses

Escalating behaviour incidents appropriately involves graduated responses that match the severity of the behaviour (Emmer & Sabornie, 2015). Teachers should follow a structured approach, beginning with less severe interventions and gradually escalating if necessary. This approach aligns with the principles of restorative justice, promoting a focus on resolution rather than punitive measures.

2.  Involvement of School Policies and Procedures

School policies and procedures provide a roadmap for teachers in escalating behaviour incidents (Marzano et al., 2003). Teachers should be familiar with the school's guidelines and ensure that their actions align with established protocols. Consistency in following school policies contributes to a unified and cohesive approach to behaviour management across the educational institution.

3.  Collaboration with Colleagues and Stakeholders

Effective escalation of behaviour incidents often involves collaboration with colleagues and other stakeholders (Emmer & Sabornie, 2015). Teachers should communicate with their peers, administrators, and parents as needed. Collaborative efforts ensure a holistic understanding of the student's behaviour and facilitate a comprehensive approach to resolution and support.


The Impact of High Behavioural Expectations on Student Success

1.  Academic Achievement and Engagement

High behavioural expectations have a direct impact on academic achievement and student engagement (Marzano et al., 2003). A well-managed classroom, where behavioural expectations are consistently upheld, provides a conducive environment for learning. Students are more likely to be actively engaged and focused on their studies when they feel secure and supported in their educational journey.

2.  Development of Social and Emotional Skills

In addition to academic success, behavioural expectations contribute to the development of crucial social and emotional skills (Emmer & Sabornie, 2015). Students learn the importance of self-discipline, responsibility, and respect for others. These skills, cultivated within the framework of high expectations, are essential for personal growth and future success in various aspects of life.

3.  Preparation for Real-world Challenges

The application of rules, sanctions, and rewards in line with school policy prepares students for the challenges they may encounter beyond the classroom (Marzano et al., 2003). Learning to navigate a structured environment with clear expectations helps students develop resilience, adaptability, and a sense of responsibility—qualities crucial for success in their academic and professional pursuits.

In the intricate tapestry of education, teachers play a central role not only in imparting knowledge but in shaping the behavioural landscape that defines the learning environment. By demonstrating consistently high behavioural expectations and applying rules, sanctions, and rewards in line with school policy, educators create a structured and positive atmosphere where students can thrive academically and personally.

As architects of the learning experience, teachers contribute to the holistic development of their students. In the intersection of clear behavioural expectations, consistent application, and appropriate escalation lies the potential for transformative education—one that not only imparts academic knowledge but also instils the values and skills necessary for success in the complex journey of life.



Emmer, E. T., & Sabornie, E. J. (2015). Handbook of Classroom Management: Research, Practice, and Contemporary Issues. Routledge.

Marzano, R. J., Marzano, J. S., & Pickering, D. (2003). Classroom management that works: Research-based strategies for every teacher. ASCD.

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