‘Great teachers have high expectations for their students, but even higher expectations for themselves.’
– Todd Whittaker
For students to achieve to anywhere near their potential, teachers and parents need to have high expectations. What adults believe about a young person’s capacity, often determines what will be achieved.
Having high expectations does not mean riding a student and punishing them when they don’t perform.
It does, however, mean that you spur all your students on to do their best and you don’t accept less from a student you know can perform better. This may mean that you give them the opportunity to redo a test or a task because you know that they can achieve more.
It means that you don’t accept that a student cannot learn. You find alternative ways to make the learning accessible to the student. Perhaps you enlist other students for peer tutoring, or you organise for the student who is struggling to teach someone younger or less able in order to boost their confidence. It may mean that you offer alternative ways for the student to demonstrate the learning outcomes because they find writing difficult.
Having high expectations means that you:
1. Believe in all your students. You believe that every student can learn and if they haven’t learnt yet, you just haven’t found the way that is meaningful to them yet.
2. Do not give up on students, even those who are hard to reach, who disrupt your class or who may struggle with the work. You keep trying to build a relationship with them, keep working to engage them and keep searching for a way to help them learn.
3. Do not make excuses for students and give them the easy way out by making their background or their upbringing or their disability the reason for them not achieving.
4. Provide high levels of support and nurturing for all your students according to their needs.
5. Show them that you believe they can achieve through your unwavering encouragement and enthusiasm.
6. Demonstrate high levels of professionalism by being prepared for teaching and learning. When you fail to deliver (because you are still human) you own up and hold yourself accountable.
7. Use strategies that reduce anxiety because you understand that when students are stressed or highly anxious, learning is almost impossible.
You demonstrate what you expect of students through your language and your behaviour. Positive words and actions tell students that you believe in them.