5.6 Setting High Expectations
Effective teachers have high standards for their students, they consistently challenge students to do their best, and they are caring professionals who encourage students to believe in themselves. However, for teachers to do this often or daily can be incredibly challenging.
Luckily, there are a variety of valuable techniques to set high expectations without teachers burning out students. Let us have a look at these techniques below:
- Teachers should not praise low-quality work- When teachers praise low-quality work, it creates a norm in the classroom, which results in low expectations. Communicating this type of message can have serious consequences. When a teacher gives low expectations to an already underachieving student or class, they are not pushing them to meet standards they could reach. While teachers can support students with good intentions, doing so when they hand in or deliver inferior work can negatively impact the learning process on a fundamental level, which is why educators must use praise and rewards techniques strategically.
- Teachers should react to changes in performance- A dramatic downturn in a student’s performance represents an opportunity for the teacher to send a strong message on academic expectations. A student whose performance has dipped may be told, “This is not the standard of work that I know you are capable of doing. We need to find out what is happening and make a plan to get you back on track.” Such a remark from a respected teacher can be a powerful spur to a flagging student. Note that the language around reacting to negative behaviours — as with writing report card comments — requires tact and subtlety; teachers must ensure that they frame the feedback in a way that provokes the student to consider their ability to do well.
- Teachers should try to get their students to consider that not only do they have the ability to do well, but there is something that they have done to bring about the result.
- Check for understanding- Teachers with high expectations do not want any students going out the door without knowing where they stand on the day’s content. Students’ knowledge should be checked. For example, a teacher checking questions, performing over-the-shoulder observations of student work, and listening to group talk are all strategies they can use to communicate their high expectations.
- Teachers should deliver feedback according to the criteria for success- Research on teaching skills shows positive feedback as a critical skill for teachers to master. The most powerful single modification that enhances student achievement is feedback. Skillful feedback does not merely declare work to be right or wrong but enables self-correction and self-adjustment. If the teachers’ feedback is actionable, frequent, detailed, and specific, students will understand that he/she wants them to succeed and support them in their effort to master their skills.