High Expectations

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

  1. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Jul 22, 2018

    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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  2. 2ndTimeAround

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    Jul 23, 2018

    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.
     
  3. Been There

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    Jul 23, 2018

    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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  4. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Jul 23, 2018

    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.
     
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jul 23, 2018

    I’m interested!!! Please, please, please write this!
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

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    Jul 28, 2018

    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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  7. Linguist92021

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    Jul 28, 2018

    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.
     
  8. 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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  9. 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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