Recently, while sorting through a pile of papers, I ran across an article that I think deserves some consideration. The Power of Expectations, by Neal Cross, is a brief, but insightful reminder about the connection between expectations and student achievement. The article is not available online, so it will take some extra effort to read in full, but I believe it will be worth your time.
Cross, N. (2008, November 1). The Power of Expectations. Principal Leadership, 9(3), 24-28.
On previous occasions I have written about having high expectations for students, in combination with a high level of support. Our actions as educators must go beyond simply stating our expectations, we must be certain that we provide the assistance necessary for students to achieve these expectations. In his article, Cross emphasizes that in addition to academic supports, educators must be keenly aware of how our connections with students impact academic achievement. Referencing the work of Jon Saphier and Robert Gower in their book The Skillful Teacher: Building your Teacher Skills, Cross summarizes three critical statements that teachers should consistently deliver to students:
- This is important. Every effort should be made to add relevance to lessons and activities and emphasize why content and/or skills are critical.
- You can do it. We must recognize that for many students, success is unfamiliar territory. It is imperative that we make it clear that we believe that student success is inevitable.
- I won’t give up on you. Not only do we need to explicitly let students know that we will not allow them to fail, we need to put words into action – working tirelessly to convince them that this is truth.
The article goes on to provide a number of suggestions for how teachers can express these statements of expectation and help students draw connections between their effort level and achievement. Good advice, and definitely worth the read!