High Expectations

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    What does setting high expectations mean for you in the classroom?

    One of the challenges of my student teaching was that I felt like my school had very low expectations of my students, especially in terms of their behavior. There were often no consequences and the students received so much free time (that should have been instructional time IMO.) All of my friends who taught in the same district said that they felt like the expectations were too low for the kids. In my interview for my new school, the administration said that even though we are a low-income school, our students still do the same work as students in suburban schools. I will likely be teaching the lower level 6th grade classes, but they still said we still hold high expectations of all students. I am excited that this is my district's philosophy. I would love to hear how teachers set high expectations for students while still meeting students where they are.

    EDIT: Sorry--I meant to post this in the general education forum, not secondary! Whoops.
     
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  3. Been There

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    Just about every school website boasts having "high expectations" of their students. For me, this hackneyed term has become synonymous with lip service. Merely stating that teachers have high expectations of all students does not always equate to what actually takes place at a school. Let me put it this way: As a principal, I may have high expectations of you as a teacher on my staff. However, whether or not you live up to my expectations would depend on what you do to demonstrate a commensurate level of high job performance. Sure, there may be consequences if you are chronically late to work (meet me in my office) or your students consistently perform poorly on standardized tests (professional development) - ultimately it's up to you.

    My point is, it's not what you do to ensure that your high expectations are realized - it's what your students do to make them a reality. Perhaps it's just a matter of semantics, but one's choice of words can often help or hinder progress towards a professional goal. As for me, I learned not to give difficult students an opportunity to challenge my expectations - to this end, I never discussed with my students what I expected of them. Instead, I simply told them what they were to do and they did it. Thanks to my understanding of applying theory to practice and the availability of multimedia, I could even raise the bar by several grade levels and everyone readily learned to jump over it. At least with elementary students, I never had students who complained, "I don't want to do this!" This is an assertive approach that worked for me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
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  4. rpan

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    You need to set high expectations for behaviour and achievement. Whatever those expectations are, they need to be explicit and within reach. This comes with knowing your students. You can set high behaviour expectations from day one. Set high academic achievements as you get to know the students, their abilities and personalities. As a new teacher, always have a plan when things don’t go as you expected. E.g. what is your behaviour management strategy - first indiscretion what do you do, second indiscretion what do you do etc. When a kid isn’t meeting academic achievements, because of lack of effort or lack of ability, what do you do?
    No matter what expectations you set, be consistent and fair and explicit.
    And it also helps to pick your battles with expectations. E.g. to me, I really dislike rude and backchatting students so I set the expectation for that to never happen in my classroom. I really don’t care if they want to write in pink ink as long as they do the task or I don’t care if their hats are on their heads in class as long as they show up for class on time. Sometimes letting go of small expectations that don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things gives the bigger expectations more importance and let’s the students know that when you put your foot down you mean business.
     
  5. Been There

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    I've noticed a tendency among some teachers to confuse expectations with rules. By definition, an expectation is a) a belief that something will happen or b) a belief that someone will achieve something. An expectation is a presumption of what you hope will occur based on available information. Rules, on the other hand - as used in the classroom - are regulations or principles governing student conduct. They are not beliefs, but explicit protocol to be followed by everyone.

    Problems arise when the difference between expectations and rules become blurred by the misuse of the two terms. A teacher will occasionally adjust his/her expectations for different students at different times based on a particular activity (e.g. wide achievement gap, special needs, etc.). Although rules may sometimes be modified, they usually remain unchanged. Teachers expect students to follow their rules.

    Instead of referring to them as big or small, expectations are often described as being either realistic or unrealistic. I think it's fair to say that all teachers have many of the same basic expectations of their students - e.g. paying attention, completing assignments, punctuality, etc. Effective teachers establish realistic, variable behavioral and academic expectations commensurate with their students' needs and abilities.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I teach low level SPED so my high expectations may be different than a gen ed teacher. I expect my students to complete their daily work on time, to arrive at school fully prepared for the day, to do their homework, and to focus when they are in small group with me.
    I also expect my students to develop friendships with other students and teachers in the school, to participate willingly in school activities, to always be respectful, and to give some thought to their future.
     
  7. That Business Guy

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    It is hard to have high expectations when the school does not enforce high expectations; however, that does not mean to lower your expectations. My advice is to reflect on five (or less) areas that you want to strongly enforce and use those five (or less) areas to create your classroom culture.

    I would have high expectations for at least the following: behavior, achievement, quality of work, and time management.

    Also, it is extremely important to enforce the high expectations. If you do not enforce them then your students will not follow them (I learned this from my own mistakes). Sounds simple but very important for a successful classroom.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  8. TeacherGroupie

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    Jul 18, 2018

    No worries: it was easy to fix.
     
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  9. Aces

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    I always think back to jump school when we talk about expectations. Our instructor told us on the first day "My expectations do not change. My bar is set where it is set always. The goal is not to pass that bar on the first day. But rather, the goal is to grow everyday. Something you failed at yesterday you will succeed at tomorrow. And if you don't, I'll put my foot up your a$$ until you do. My job is not to change the expectations to suit your needs. My job is to build you up until you can do it on your own."

    I set high expectations. My class is very pass or fail. You either do outstanding or you flunk and it's always lack of effort on your part.
     
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  10. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    When one expects their students to write analytical paragraphs while their science teacher gives extra credit for doing coloring pages it is pretty rough.
     
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  11. That Business Guy

    That Business Guy Rookie

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    Talk about an uphill battle. Keep fighting to good fight. You’re making a bigger and better impact for preparing them for life.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

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    I have high expectations for behavior and academics. Teachers that do no make my job much more difficult.
     
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  13. TeacherWhoRuns

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    "High" and "low" are extremely subjective terms. Have you ever heard anyone claim they have low expectations for students? The key is to define those expectations and explain what you want to see. Think of it the way you think of your principal's expectations for you. This year we had a new principal who told us that she would not give the highest marks on our observations (even though high is just defined as meeting standards) because people always have room to improve. Then she tore everyone apart on the observations over random things like autistic students fidgeting. How confident would you be going in to a situation where you know you'll never meet the expectations?
    You need to have the conversation, then remind students over and over.
     
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  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Science teachers give extra credit for coloring pages?! Reminds me of the elementary schools in my hometown that got rid of science and history to replaced them with diversity classes... Only in America.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  15. Been There

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    In a healthy school environment, students and staff should have high expectations of themselves and of each other. However, that in itself will probably not be enough to get us out of the 20-year slump in academic achievement.
     
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  16. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Extra credit for batteries. Math pages in MS where the primary focus is coloring it to look good. 10 math problems (simple) and a half hour of coloring... We wonder why our kids are so far behind in math.
     
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  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    What expectations can you have of yourself if you don't know the content? Your high may be the basic of a well-educated co-worker.
     
  18. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    My last school used the term expectation instead of rule. While it worked for some things, the general change often had me scratching my head. It never felt quite right.

    I like your thoughts about keeping the terms separate.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

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    Yep, I've heard it. Usually they say that they don't expect much from their students. I have coworkers that admit it is just easier to let kids do what they want (talk, watch movies on their phones, etc.) than to enforce class rules. I've been told by coworkers that students learn responsibility best when they can decide how to spend the classroom time and basically conduct study hall all day, every day. These teachers know their expectations are lower than other teachers' but they take the path of least resistance.
     
  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Exactly right, sadly.
     
  21. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Wow, just wow.
     
  22. Been There

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    None of this should be the least bit surprising to anyone who keeps up on the declining state of our education system. With the exception of the few diamonds in the rough, there's plenty of overwhelming evidence that no negligible improvement has occurred for over 20 years! I was actually thinking of starting a provocative thread entitled Hoodwinked! Anyone interested?
     
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  23. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I really get tired of listening to my colleagues complain about how bad education in the US is. For the last 40 years, student test scores have been going up—until No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top (Republican and Democratic administrations). These terrible programs made high-stakes testing federal law and instituted programs whereby low performing schools got fewer resources and punishment in order to motivate the "lazy" teachers to make their high poverty, highly stressed students perform better on the tests. Now we have DeVos: enemy of public education.

    The true villains of public education are not the teachers (and I know not every teacher is a brilliant, committed person), it's the federal bureaucrats who don't understand education or teaching.
     
  24. futuremathsprof

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    I think there is no question that test scores are rising, but that study is statistically misleading. It reminds me of a principal I know of at a charter school that wrote up a report and proudly exclaimed that there was a 100% increase in the number of students that passed the state tests from the previous year. Yet upon reading the report, one finds that the number only went from 15 who passed to 30 out of roughly 800. That is not significant and the administrator was spinning the numbers to make it seem as if students were achieving much more than they actually were, but I’m digressing. The students were still overwhelmingly failing, though just slightly less than before.

    Back to your article: I read through it and examined several graphs and determined the gains are minimal (the scores have stayed pretty consistent over 40 years). For example, very few scores have statistically significant increases or no change and the averages only increased by a few points in many cases over that time period (like 1-5 points). Personally, I wouldn’t tote that as a major success. Especially since I keep reading time and time again about how entire districts in many states throughout the nation have a plurality or a majority of their students who fail tests and/or do not graduate and/or who can’t demonstrate mastery in pretty much anything. That is extremely concerning and should be looked at under heavy scrutiny. To demonstrate, I read an article of how a class valedictorian couldn’t pass their state’s high school exit exam after multiple attempts, which is nothing short of pathetic. It’s almost as if swathes of students have learned absolutely nothing in their ENTIRE public school educations (12+ years) besides being able to read and write at a minimally basic level.

    Frankly, it’s scary when I see students who: 1) struggle with basic arithmetic as an adult or can’t tell time, who can’t use a ruler to take measurements, or are incapable of handling money (How is that even a thing?), 2) are barely able to manage writing a single paragraph (Seriously?), 3) think rudimentary classes are exceedingly difficult (they’re called remedial courses for a reason), or 4) can’t even show proficiency in the only language that they purport to know. This indicates to me that many public schools (as well as many private schools) have absolutely failed them.

    Tyler, under the section “improvements seen in reading and mathematics” it says many of the results are not statistically different than the results in 1973. “No change” is reported elsewhere throughout the paper. The graphs that follow also show how averages have stagnated and/or increased only ever so slightly over 40 years. That’s not good enough mathematically.

    And I am happy to see that more students are taking more “advanced” math than in prior years as a percentage of the total student population. However, there are still very few math and engineering graduates being churned out annually and colleges are coming out and saying incoming students are woefully underprepared for college-level maths. There is a reason for that.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.pb...roll-students-arent-prepared-higher-education

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-04-27/high-school-seniors-arent-college-ready-naep-data-show?context=amp

    https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/201...lege-or-career-ready-says-nations-report-card

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.br...ge-performance-less-than-you-might-think/amp/

    https://www.chronicle.com/article/High-Schools-Set-Up/139105
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  25. Been There

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    I avoided the staff lunchroom so that I could eat my lunch without having to listen to the endless vents of frustrated, angry or depressed teachers. I also stopped participating in a carpool after experiencing the non-stop chatter of colleagues who couldn't wait to talk shop both to (starting at 6:30 in the morning) and from school - an hour each way! No one really likes to hear others complaining about their work day in and day out, but the reality is that dysfunctional schools are active breeding grounds for ever-mounting work-related stress.

    With regard to the 2008 NAEP report that you cited, I concur with FMP comments. Many teachers have difficulty interpreting statistical data, especially when test results are presented in a way to make unflattering figures sparkle. The purported "gains" often don't match what one sees in schools. Here are some links to articles that may help explain what's going on:

    NAEP 2017 Reading Results
    NAEP Shows Little to No Gains in Math, Reading for U.S. Students
    National Test Scores Reveal a Decade of Educational Stagnation
    How Can Cities' NAEP Report Cards Be OK, When Students Are Doing Worse?
    Academic Expectations Around the Country, in Two Maps
    NAEP: A Flawed Benchmark Producing the Same Old Story

    To help you better understand the complex issues in public education, I would highly recommend Seymour Sarason's book, The Predictable Failure of Educational Reform. It was required reading for a stimulating graduate seminar I took at Stanford many years ago, but its message still applies today.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  26. Aces

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    I'm with you - I don't generally socialize with my colleagues at work. They're always gossiping about something or someone and I refuse to take part in that.
     
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  27. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Absolutely beautiful post. Well put!
     
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  28. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  29. TeacherWhoRuns

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    There are some downers for sure, but I try to avoid the ones who I don't trust. The ones who try to look good to the principal by reporting on what others say. They're in all professional fields, not just teaching. This type is most dangerous when there's a new manager and they're trying to get "in" by ruining morale. A smart principal will quash it, but I've had some who encourage it.
     
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  30. Ms.Holyoke

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    My confusion with high expectations are -- when are expectations too high? We had a lot of kids with ADHD this year and they really struggled at the end of the day. The behavior was often atrocious and I was really glad that I didn't have to teach too much at the end of the day (my mentor taught two subject areas and she taught science at the end of the day). I helped out with science but she often just gave kids free time, because it was honestly easier than getting through a lesson. Sometimes I would feel like free time every Friday was not appropriate for the grade level (8th grade) and they should be doing academic work every period (except on special days, like the day before the holiday.) Even the day before breaks, I planned games that we could do so it was a "fun day" but the students were still learning. My mentor sometimes said that I had higher expectations for students but I wasn't sure if it is such a good thing. I just felt like so many of my students were already so academically behind that I wanted them to use their academic time effectively. Maybe the kids just couldn't focus at the end of the day and needed the free time? I definitely want to set high academic expectations but I also do not want to stress out the kids!
     
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  31. readingrules12

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    When I think of High Expectations done correctly, I think of correctly challenging expectations. I think of weight loss for an example. If you had 3 people: (150 pounds overweight, 42 pounds overweight, and 2 pounds overweight) and had them for 3 months, what might be correct expectations if the ultimate goal was being 0 pounds overweight. One could correctly allow the 2 pounds to get to 0. But what about the other 2? Let's say 7 pounds/month would be considered high expectations and excellent growth. Then losing 21 pounds would be the goal of the first two.

    In the classroom asking low students to improve far more than we can expect top students to do isn't high expectations, it is insanity. About 1 1/2 years of growth would be considered very high expectations for any student. Sometimes admin asks more, but talk is cheap and often not realistic. IMO high expectations should also be realistic.
     
  32. Been There

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    You raise an excellent question that isn't asked often enough! Successful instruction of any kind - whether it be obedience training for dogs or beginning calculus - begins with establishing appropriate learning outcomes/expectations. At one point in my career, I was responsible for conducting teacher evaluations - I used an approach based on a clinical supervision of instruction model. One aspect that I was especially interested in was whether or not the teacher had set realistic expectations for the class. I reached this somewhat subjective determination by assessing the alignment of the lesson to the students' present skills and/or knowledge. However, sometimes even when a lesson is aligned with students' abilities (i.e. appropriate expectations), things can still go awry if the teacher's methodology is inappropriate or poorly executed.

    It took me several years of experimentation to develop an effective method of teaching my most difficult special ed. students at the worst times of the day (30 minutes immediately after lunch and 30 minutes before dismissal). I learned that even at such times typically considered not to be conducive to instruction, with the "right" method, underachieving students easily surpassed my expectations by several grade levels within just a few months! So, realistic academic expectations should always be in synch with students' achievement levels and can be realized only if the teacher effectively employs an appropriate method of instruction.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  33. 2ndTimeAround

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    Regarding too high expectations: I am sometimes accused of this. My philosophy is that if you register for an advanced course, like AP, so that you can boost your college applications and GPA, then you need to rise to my expectations. I won't budge. But if you're taking a remedial course where you're just trying to pass so you can graduate, I'll make some (SOME) adjustments. I still expect you to have the basics, but I'll focus more on memorization and less on application with test questions. I've taught my subjects long enough that I know what are reasonable expectations for students.

    I teach high school. I have high expectations for behavior for all of my students. There are no excuses at the high school level for you to not be able to behave.
     
  34. Been There

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    As with most generalizations in education, there are often a whole host of variables that come into play in any given situation. Although there are major differences in teachers' expectations between special needs elementary students and those in a high school AP math class, from a purely pedagogical standpoint, the underlying principles remain the same.

    As you pointed out, your personal philosophy for your AP course requires students to rise to your expectations. However, if any of them lacks the basic prerequisite skills/knowledge in algebra or trig., would you not be obligated to provide the necessary remediation to help them along? I'm not sure that your refusal to budge in this regard is in the student's best interest. Perhaps the school should never have allowed unqualified students to have enrolled in the class to begin with, but that's probably an unresolvable political issue.

    With that being said, I do believe AP classes are on a different plane and should have higher standards and expectations for what are esentially college level courses.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
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  35. Aces

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    Our physics classes are considered ap. I still find an alarmingly high amount of students who don't understand the basics of algebra in order to compete the equations. So I get that struggle. It seems like sometimes you have to go back three squares in order to advance one. That's why basically the first lab we do is really just a review of algebra and things.
     
  36. futuremathsprof

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    I’m interested!!! Please, please, please write this!
     
  37. 2ndTimeAround

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    I have students that come without the prerequisites. I very briefly offer a review of basic concepts and add links to tutorials to my website should my review not be enough for students. I absolutely do not spend extra time going over basics during class. I do not have that luxury.

    It may not be in the students' best interests. Or it may. Maybe these kids have been coddled and pushed along for so long that they think they can jump into AP and do the same.

    I will say that after one year of being tough like this the counselors drastically reduced who they would allow to sign up without the "required prerequisites." When teachers continue to make up for the shortcomings of others, students continue to be placed in courses they aren't ready for. If you make it easy for kids to takes these classes by making your own life harder than it should, people will continue to take advantage.
     
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  38. Linguist92021

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    Back to your original question: high expectations. When are thy too high?
    Well, I have always had high expectations of my students, and I stood out big time with that early on, teaching in alternative ed. I'm sorry to say, but in all alternative ed environments MOST (not all) teachers had extremely low expectations of the students. Curriculum was dumbed down. I mean, having a high schooler do a word search for extra credit??? Work out of a book, copy down facts?

    Alternate ed has been my only experience teaching (aside from student teaching, where expectations were high) so I treat it as the real thing.
    I expect my students to END UP doing the same things as others in "regular high schools" I mean no, I don't expect the to write a top notch research essay, but I will teach them and expect them to learn to write and then produce a top notch essay.
    I expect them to read and comprehend an essay of developmentally appropriate content (and not dumb it down), etc.
    My first principal always said to continue to hold them to high expectations and they will rise. She was right. Of course there was push back and complaints, but most of the kids learned to accept it and a lot have expected it. And a lot of students understood and appreciated it then I'm doing this because I think they're smart, they can do it and will only benefit from this.

    Simply put: I don't think we ever really hold kids to too high expectations when it comes to curriculum. Too high expectations would be something they simply can't do. Expecting a kid to do chemistry when they're barely understanding abstract concepts. Or reading a novel of grade 12 level when they're barely a freshman with that kind of vocabulary.

    Behaviorally? I can't really comment on special needs or younger ages, because I don't have the experience. But middle schoolers and high schooler? They can behave, and sit still and pay attention and learn. They are capable.
     
  39. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jul 30, 2018

    Generally, an expectation is believing something will occur in the future. If it's "high" one might surmise students will perform better down the road. An experiment conducted in San Francisco some time back had to do with teachers' expectations. Researchers doctored IQ tests of random students in a way that led teachers to believe these students were "destined to succeed" and they would experience "a dramatic growth in their IQ".

    Students were followed for two years. Researchers reported "That expectations affect teachers' moment-to-moment interactions with the children they teach in a thousand almost invisible ways. Teachers give the students that they expect to succeed more time to answer questions, more specific feedback, and more approval: They consistently touch, nod and smile at those kids more." In other words, saying or thinking one has high standards is a belief. Talk is nice, but it doesn't guarantee behavior. Translating a belief into action or what the teacher actually does has a better chance of showing where the teacher really stands.
     
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  40. Been There

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    Jul 31, 2018

    I believe this is what's known as the Pygmalion Effect. A major limitation of this experiment was its inability to be replicated well. Subsequent studies have generally found no expectancy advantage for the experimental group, with a tendency for teachers to favor the experimental group more than the control group - these were obviously not blind studies. However, as is so often the case with many education-related studies, blatant flaws in experimental design are often ignored by consumers who tend to believe what they choose to and form questionable connections between theory and practice.

    Regardless of what the "research" tells us, realistic expectations should be a part of any teaching situation to optimize learning outcomes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018

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