I saw the follow video recently and it instantly made me think about our schools:
If your reaction was like mine, your thoughts went to the expectations, personas, and biases we place on our students. We often say things in education like “I believe all students can achieve at a high level”, but then our actions often show a different depiction of what we believe. It is not a secret that students often meet the expectations we set. If we set low expectations, we assure ourselves that our students will meet them. If we set high expectations, while they may not get there, they will always get farther than when we do not expect they can achieve great things.
High expectations never mean that all students can or will reach the same level. Having high expectations means that students are given the opportunity to push to the level they can achieve. I believe, our expectations more often hold students back rather than push them forward. We often lower expectations so all students will be able to meet them. We have been trained that a good lesson is one where all our students can produce the outcome we want by the end of the class or unit. A bad lesson is the opposite. In my opinion, a good lesson is one where we have high expectations, it gets messy, some students get there, some do not, but all show what they now understand about the material. Low expectations will allow us to get the outcomes we always want, but high expectations allow us to get the learning process we want.
While it was easy for me to examine how we might set false expectations for our students, it was not as easy for me to examine the same ideas in my expectations for the teachers I serve. This has made me think about if I hold the same expectations for all teachers equally. Do I focus too much on the neat outcomes that we want to see and the test scores we want to get, rather than setting high expectations and helping teachers get messy in accomplishing what they can, where they can, to the best of their ability? These ideas have cause the leadership team in my building to begin to examine the processes we use and the expectations we set for those we serve.
It is much easier to look at others and give advice, saying what they should do than it is to examine our own daily actions and disciplines and ensure that we are holding ourselves to the same standards.
Regardless of whether it is in our classrooms or our leadership roles, what we see can very easy turn into what we get. People tend to meet the expectations we set for them. If they think they cannot, then they usually will not. While those we serve may not always reach the high expectations we set, we can at least be assured that we were not the ones holding them back. And, in all honesty, it is not as much about meeting expectations as it is about doing our best each and every day. We may not all get to the same level, but we can all get better. No matter the time, place, or level of experience, we can all get better everyday.
Keep learning, keep growing, keep sharing!