Monday, October 27, 2014

Crash Course Week 8: Expectations

It's important to have high expectations for your students. How do you set high expectations for your students and encourage them to succeed? Have you been surprised by a student who was able to step up to some high expectations that you set?

What great participation we've had in the fall book group! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and ideas and also for encouraging your fellow participants. Please be sure that you have introduced yourself in the first week's blog post. This is how I am able to find you to send you your PGPs at the end of the book club. Please be sure to include your first and last name and your school and/or corporation. For next week please read chapters 13 and 14, "Bonding" and "Creativity."

54 comments:

  1. I feel like I hold all my students to a high standard. I teach 5th grade and my students are still "forgetting" to use proper punctuation and capitalization. I not only count off for those errors, I make them rewrite them and remind them of the rules. I hope I am instilling a sense of ownership to my students and when they proofread their work and see a mistake they immediately think, "This is wrong and I need to fix it."

    I have been surprised by a student this year. I have a student who rarely turned in work and always forgot specific details to an assignment. I felt like I was always nagging on this student. The teachers kept saying I wouldn't get any work out of this student. One day I decided to focus on the positive things they did and he turned around. Now he rarely misses work and is one of the best students I have in class. I am so thankful we were able to turn it around!

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  2. This weeks chapter really made me think. I don't feel as though I hold my students to a high enough standard. There are many reasons, but one is that I am afraid some of them will shut down and not do the work. I might be surprised by those that step-up and by encouraging them, it might mitigate those students that wouldn't step-up to the challenge.

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  3. Our expectations are sometimes expressed through the opportunities that we offer students. If we don't think they will succeed, then we tend to provide a scaled back version of what we could have presented. This year I have one very low performing math class of inclusion/special education students while other periods of the day the students' abilities are average or above. I have resisted backing off the requirements with the lower ability group; to my surprise many of the students with IEP's are the ones who come to class prepared, homework accomplished, and have a better frame of mind than some students with more abilities. If only two or three of these lower ability students accomplish their tasks that sends a message of what is possible. This has bolstered my plan to continue building their confidence in completing work that is challenging while trying with my co-teacher to fill in the gaps where their skills are lacking---a very optimistic co-teacher also helps move me through the rough days. The truth is that nothing in the real world is ever going to be as easy as a classroom where support is given and second chances offered. For that reason, we have to maintain high expectations in spite of disappointments and resistance. I think the same can be applied to our expectations vs. students' choices outside the classroom/outside the school. Students falter and make mistakes; they have to pay the consequences. However, they also need to know that teachers do not give up on them nor cross them off a list. They are in training to make a better life and better choices in the future.

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  4. I refuse to let students take the easy way out or just "settle". Sometimes students and parents think I am being unreasonable by not giving in. Students are not allowed to drop classes or diploma tracks just because it is easier. More than once I have had students come back and thank me for not giving in. Students need to challenge themselves.

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  5. I hold my students to a high standard, or so I feel. I think kids need to know that they need to put forth quality effort in order to get results and not just expect good grades to be handed to them. For instance when I pass out the spelling list and students are asked to write their words 3x each I expect them to be written correctly, their list is right in front of them. I have been pleasantly surprised by a couple of my students this year and how well they are doing both academically as well as socially.

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  6. “Too often, we all look at the context clues around us and use them to make incorrect inferences and draw the wrong conclusions” (page 114). I feel this happens way too often especially in high school settings. So often I hear teacher’s talking about students and one will say something like, “I had him last year and he’s just awful.” That immediately sets the tone for the interaction in the current classroom. A situation similar to this happened at my school not long ago. There is a male student who was always in trouble, earned low grades, was absent frequently, and was known among the other students as a slacker. After midterm grades were distributed his guidance counselor called him in and asked him why he wasn't passing his English or Math classes but had straight A’s in his Welding classes. He said the same thing Kim points out in the book. He told her, “I feel important in my welding classes, Mrs. R. tells me what I’m doing right not just what I do wrong. She makes me feel useful and I know I can weld.” This student is now researching technical programs for after graduation and hopes to get involved in an internship program soon. It only took that one teacher to make him realize he had potential and for him to believe in himself. Our guidance counselor shared this story at a faculty meeting recently and I think we all thought of at least one student we could work with to increase their expectations in themselves and their future.

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  7. Even though I teach special education, I expect a lot from my students. I want them to always give 100% and be challenged. Many have the preconceived notion that special education is easy. For a lot of my students, it is a daily struggle. In English, I want them to be familiar with the stories that general education students read, not the same stories about Bob and Pat that they read every year. For the past few years, I have had my English 11 classes read The Crucible. When they first see the play, they tend to get freaked out. I modify the lessons for the students. They listen, summarize, and comprehend during the lessons. By the end of the play, they discover that they actually enjoyed the play. I want my students to realize that I expect a lot out of them and just because they have a disability, they shouldn't be excluded from different "things."

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    1. I think it's great that you (and I) teach our special education students the same things that the general education students are learning. I think it makes them feel good knowing they are learning right there along with the rest of their grade. They may struggle but it's comforting knowing that we have exposed them to the same curriculum in some way.

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  8. Because I have a flipped class, I can hold each accountable to a different standard. My philosophy is always "Creativity Trumps All". Meaning I want students to really push themselves creatively. Our current school culture rewards compliance over creativity and I don't like that. And I'm not concerned about effort, but more passion. When we focus on the effort put in, it becomes work. And everyone approaches work by trying to do the least possible to accomplish a task. However, passion isn't seen as work. When we engage in something with passion, we can't get enough and want to continue doing more. My standard for the students is that they find their passions. I'm not teaching cog makers. I'm teaching change makers. However, my expectation for them should be of little concern. They know I expect them to do great things. I don't want them performing for me because I'm not some gatekeeper of meeting an arbitrary standard. I want them to have those expectations for themselves. Demanding more from themselves is what is going to make a difference in their lives. I think that is what Beardon was getting at in the chapter. I tell my students, "I'm your sherpa. I'll carry a lot of the things weighting you down as you climb the mountain. But, you yourself have to make it to the summit. If you stop climbing, it makes no sense for me to keep carrying. I could still reach the summit with all your stuff, but it's pointless without you." That's not to say I give up on my reluctant learners. I just get them to realize they're the ones in control of their own learning.

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    1. I love your summit metaphor! Very well said! It's hard to get students to realize they are the ones in control of how much they learn .

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  9. I always set the bar high for my students but I don't let them know I have done this. This way there is that challenge but they are not feeling like a failure if they do not meet that high goal.
    When a student doesn't meet the goal and they start getting upset I ask them one question. Did you do your best effort? If a student says yes then I tell them I can't ask any more from them then that. But if they say no we go back over the assignment and figure out where they could have improved. I let the student do the talking and I just put in a word here or there. That allows them in the future to look over their assignments with the same viewpoint and analyze their work.
    There has been many students over the years that have exceeded my expectations. Some because they like the subject and exceed in that area. But others have a light bulb go off in themselves and do a fantastic job. That is when you give the student high praise and encourage that work in future projects or assignments.

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  10. "Oftentimes, we have to identify the greatness within another before they are able to see it in themselves." This quote from the chapter really hit home for me and was a great reminder that every child needs someone to identify their greatness. Often we are so focused on the daily running of our classrooms and how much needs to get done each day and this leads us to forget that we are teaching children that need their greatness identified. All the other points in this chapter really kept me going back to that quote such as each person's story is still being written and that we should encourage our students to show their best version to the world. I don't think I do this enough and really need to think about making sure this is a priority.

    High expectations are always something that I think I am requiring but I worry that I am not consistent with it. The author points out a student who is making straight A's but doesn't show dedication, a strong work ethic or a thirst for knowledge. I can think of many students over the years that fit that description for me. I am not sure I really looked for their greatness and pushed them to be their very best version. I really need to remember that when I "set advanced standards," I'll see "advanced results." I often get overwhelmed by all of the different abilities I need to address within my classroom and I think I am often teaching to most of my students but not necessarily really pushing them. This chapter really made me look for ways to create, keep and implement high standards in my classroom.

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  11. I teach two sections of Basic level English classes, but I follow the same curriculum and teach the same lessons that I do with my General level classes to the Basic level students, only at a slower pace. They know from the start of the semester that I have high expectations; that they must complete their work, and complete it with effort! I verbally set these expectations at the beginning of the year, and am constantly reminding students of them throughout the year, especially when I see effort and motivation waning. Every semester I am amazed that some of my lower level students can discuss themes of literature and use various literary terms while discussing the literature. I feel like with scaffolding and a lot of help from me at the beginning, they start to see they can do the work, and that if they take their time, they can complete it and more importantly, have learned from it.

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  12. I get sucked into the "good class" "bad class" stereotype at times regarding expectations, and I wonder if that is how classes become weaker or stronger than others as a whole. When we have groups of students that are regarded as weaker, I sometimes find myself trying to survive them rather than raise their level of expectation. Nothing better than watching students do things they didn't think they could do, but you wouldn't give up and they didn't either and were able to succeed. The raising expectations chapter was a good eye opener about how I conduct myself on a daily basis. As a coach as well, it's about establish a culture of high expectations. It is a process, but as we stop accepting excuses and "I can't"'s how rewarding it will be for both sides!

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  13. I am having a frustrating year with setting high expectations. Last year, I had a great group that met and surpassed by expectations, but this years group is having a hard time meeting my expectations of bringing appropriate materials to class and turning in homework on time so I am not sure how to set them higher right now and see results. I have tried bribery with desserts and bonus points but it's not working. I cannot lower my expectations with state testing changing nor can I settle with how they are performing. As a majority, they don't seem bothered by low grades or not performing to their potential. We are seeing this in every discipline on our team and are at our wits end. I tell them daily, "you expect me to come prepared to teach, I expect you prepared to learn" but it goes over their heads. Sorry to be a Debi Downer, just having a frustrating year.

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    1. I had a rough group last year too, Carrie- no matter that I had high expectations, they just refused to grow. I don't care about achievement so much as a growth mentality. Some students take longer to get it than others- and sometimes you get an entire group that isn't motivated by growth. I had them in 6th grade social studies, but I hear this year they are doing better in 7th grade social studies- another year of maturity and a different teacher, some kids moved in or out to change the social dynamics. It's OK to be a Debi Downer when you are feeling low or struggling- it's truly frustrating when you care more about the growth of students than they do. My advice- I can't solve your problem because I didn't "fix" my group last year. But keep your head held high, keep pushing those high expectations, celebrate the students that rise, and do what's best for kids- even when the kiddos don't rise to it. Baby steps and celebrate small victories. Hang in there- YOU do make a difference even if the kids aren't appreciating it yet. HUGS!

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    2. Carrie-
      I'm sorry to here about your year! We all have them at some point, just remember that you are doing what you should be, and they are not. Hopefully one day they will look back and wish they had listened to you and gave more effort! As much as it seems they aren't hearing you, they most likely are and will get it eventually! Middle school is a tough age!! Keep trying, maybe you'll find something that works!

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  14. High expectations are very important to me. I teach students that FAIL means "First Attempt, I'm (Still) Learning"- I expect everyone to be able to pass my assessments and show me that they have learned the skills, knowledge, and abilities that I have taught them. I modify as needed for IEPs, but my philosophy the past two years is that if you fail an assignment or assessment, I have you work with me 1:1 as remediation or do a different additional assignment then retake the assessment- as many times as needed. It's really build confidence in my struggling students to know that I will help them as much as needed to get them to master the course objectives. And my "high skill, low will" students aren't just allowed to fail and slide by with an F- they are learning tenacity and to give me their best effort because they are just going to have to redo it anyhow. I also use a program called L to J- it's a continuous progress monitoring system borrowed from the business world that shows progress week to week on what we will learn over the course of the year (many teachers at my school use it)- I have a bank of 100 questions over the most important ideas for the entire course, and students take a weekly practice quiz on 10 random questions from the bank; we chart the class average and celebrate with a small reward for improvements (all time bests) over the weeks. Students also get a reward every time they get a perfect 10. I use rewards like free time, candy, pop, music, etc. for the weekly incentives, but we talk every single week about how important it is to show growth and have a growth or improvement mindset. Kids really buy into this program, and it sets the expectation that EVERY student should grow and be making progress towards passing the final exam at the end of the year. I have much higher expectations for my students than many of them (or their parents) have for themselves, so a lot of my job seems to be as a cheerleader and facilitator to help students reach my high expectations- that everyone CAN learn and CAN master the course content of Social Studies 6 to some level.

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  15. Hi expectations are important in the classroom today. The problem is, I have this vision of what I want for my students but getting their is tough. We talk a lot about creating an environment of excellence in our building. In fact, I just had that conversation with my principal a couple of days ago. The staff all want the same things, but getting their is tough. In my classroom, I have changed a lot of what I teach. I don't use a textbook anymore, because I came to feel that it was hindering what I wanted to do instead of helping. I have my students do a great deal more writing and critical thinking. I ask them to do things I know will be difficult for them, and I let them know up front that it is tough, but I believe they can do it. I have found that my attitude helps their attitude. I am also fair in my grading. If my students don't get something, I don't I find ways to come back to the same thing until they get better. I get a lot of complaints early about how hard my class is, but past students often come back and tell me that by the end, they were proud of themselves because they felt they had grown. I think that is a good thing.

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  16. Sometimes I feel students get upset with me when I correct their writing. I recently had a discussion in each of my English classes about their attitudes about grading papers they have written. Some students give me the impression they resent it when I deduct points from items they have written. I ask them if they expect a math teacher to deduct points for math mistakes. I teach English 9, and what I'm finding is a little bit of an attitude of, "I completed the assignment, so why don't I get a perfect, or near perfect score for doing it?" I explained my perspective and what the ECA grading will be like. I tell them that I know they are all knowledgeable about beginning every sentence with a capital letter and ending with a punctuation mark. If I don't enforce this, however, I get careless, text-like writing and abbreviations. I expect standard English in English class. The more they resist this idea, the lower their English grade tends to fall. Interestingly, it is sometimes the highest-ability class that complains the most. It is early in the nine weeks, and at this point they all have A's in the class! I asked them today, why I heard complaints from them before class even started! We are in the midst of football sectional week and volleyball regional week, and I think many of my students are worrying about holding on to their good grades, they are busy with athletics, and they are tired. I have found that when I give a pep talk about having high expectations it relieves some stress, tension, and helps us understand the teacher-student expectations better. This chapter was well-timed for my classes!

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  17. Each year my sophomores have to meet the standards set by the state of Indiana in order to complete their required End-Of-Course (ECA) testing. In order to help them practice the skills needed to be successful, I have them write, write, and write some more. Currently we are taking steps to develop argumentative writing skills and the students are finding this to be challenging. Even though the standards challenge the students, the majority of the sophomores are able to pass it on the first attempt. Just for my own benefit, I try to predict which students will pass and I am always surprised by some of the results. One year an honors student did not pass it. The same year, a special education student who really struggled during the school year passed with points to spare.

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  18. This academy sounds like a great place to teach, but it is a private charter with perks that us big boy public schools can't access. There's no funding to take 180 8th graders to roam our town for lesson instruction, though there are many creative educators who could make serious inroads into more meaningful and memorable lessons. The vulture of standardized testing sits on our shoulders and constrains what teachers feel they can do for their kids. The idea of "sameness" from one classroom or one building to the next is also beginning to handcuff those who would go all out and break the textbook tethers.
    In the social studies arena, it would be awesome to be reactive to the world's current events. We could be studying ISIS, ebola, Ferguson, gold mining, Alibaba, etc. If we have to be tested, could those be more theme-based, thereby opening the door for some amazingly creative curriculum!!!

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    1. I completely agree with your assessment of this book and teaching in an academy like that. I often find myself saying how awesome it would be to have unlimited funding!

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  19. I start on the first day with high expectations and always start the year with a homework assignment and then on the second day I always explain to the students that didn't have it done about my classroom expectations and push them to rise to the challenge. Also, when I call on a student to answer a question, they have to answer it correctly. If they get it wrong, then I will either give them more time, give them hints by asking questions, etc., but they will get the right answer. This pushes them to ask me questions while during the activity or to come in for help if they have questions on the homework which I encourage them to do everyday.
    I have students surprise me all of the time with being able to rise to the occasion, but what excites me the most is when students come back to thank me later for teaching them how to push themselves and to raise their own expectations.

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  20. I really feel for what previous posters have said about being limited to drilling students on the information they must have on the all important standardized tests. As a first grade teacher I'm not as hamstrung by required scores on a required test, but I certainly have the objective that all my students need to be highly proficient in meeting a increasingly difficult list of standards. You are not allowed to be a late bloomer or an average student anymore. Time for focusing on gifts students have that aren't measured by the almighty tests is becoming difficult to find.

    One thing I enjoy that I like to share with my students is love of music and drama. We recently did a Halloween Reader's Theater piece that required lots of reading and expressive timing. When I began I felt like the group would not be up to the challenge, but they did a wonderful job once I told them that they were smart and I knew they could do it. I've found the same thing happens when we're working on music pieces. I also usually don't do ability groups when we have reading because I feel its important to expect that all students can succeed with the text we are working on.

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  21. I try to set the bar high for all my students, but I really step it up for my honors classes. I push the limits of their comprehension of the material. We do a lot more story problems and application problems. At the beginning of the year, a lot of my students come in with the perception that they are already good at math, and they don’t have to put in much effort to be successful. I have seen my first quiz and test become a rude awakening for several students. They see that I am not playing around. They can’t just memorize the routine for how to solve problems. They have to think about what is being asked and use problem solving techniques to reach the solution.

    I have seen multiple students step up to the challenge. I see more effort on their homework, and many start coming in for extra help. I hear several students say they can’t do story problems and they aren't any good at them. By the end of each unit, most of the students are very proficient at completing the application problems. I’m trying to create avid thinkers and problem solvers, not robots that just do the same task every time to solve a problem.

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  22. Rewrite my story. I need to do this for myself, my family, children I engage with each day, friends, colleagues, and the strangers I meet each day. The story board is a great idea. It could be a work in progress. I ask myself, why haven’t I been more positive in my life? I could point fingers but they all point back to me, the choices I make, big or small. Change – that is what needs to happen.
    Every sentence written today begs the question if it needs the “doctors” to come and fix it.  I am always amazed at the capacity we have to learn not just when we are young but older too. Dreams are for all. My hope is that I can encourage my first graders to dream big dreams and not give up.
    Surround myself with those that fill my soul. I love that. It needs to go on my story board.

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  23. Instrumental music education provides many opportunities to raise the bar. For each concert I “draw positive conclusions and make meaningful predictions,” and select one particularly challenging piece of music to introduce new concepts and techniques. When the group first reads the selection they are often overwhelmed by how difficult it is to play. Over the next few weeks we break it down, rehearse it a little at a time, and with a lot of encouragement and patience, we have the finished product. After the concert, the students watch the video and are amazed how much they accomplished in a few short weeks. In the end the students are most proud of the more challenging selections.

    My students also have the option to participate in solo and ensemble festival. I select the solos for the students very carefully, something challenging yet enjoyable to rehearse. The students then come in after school for weekly lessons. Last year, I had a clarinet student that loves video games and I found the old Russian folk song that was used for the game Tetris. It was very challenging, and I even questioned myself as to whether it was too demanding for this advanced student. He loved the music but was apprehensive about whether he could learn it before festival. I encouraged him to take it home, practice it, and see if we needed to pick something easier. At our next lesson he had mastered the first part and was making good progress on the rest. The last couple of lessons before the contest, I added nuances and more dynamics (very advanced concepts at the 6th grade level). He received a Gold rating and much-earned praises from the judge. As the author states, “Every child deserves a moment like this one, where he or she feels celebrated.” Music does this.

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    1. This is great! Solo and ensemble time is always a great way to challenge the students and to raise the goal of achievement levels. What a neat idea to use the music from Tetris too, I have loads of students who enjoy video game music and always want to play it in band. It may not be a great version for full band, but would work well in a solo setting.

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  24. Setting expectations is somewhat of a challenge for me. In my experience as a special education teacher, I feel I either set expectations too high or not enough. Typically, I have to end up dialing things back a bit. When I have been in co-teaching settings, a few times, I have been wowed by my students. Specific examples do not stand out; however, it has always been when the project is student centered or during a small group discussion. It always goes back to the tone you set at the start of the year. One has to make a concerted effort to not lower the bar, but to continuously coach the kids to the next level.

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  25. I have always had high expectations. It's soemthing I grew up with and that was instilled in my sibilings and me from a young age. As a result, I have high expectations for myself, my family, and my students. Most of the time, this is a good thing. Sometimes it makes me seem unreasonable, and maybe sometimes I am. However, many times students rise to the expectations and they surprise even themselves. I teach all general ed kids -- not the highest, not the lowest. Last year, I had a co-teacher with me from the Special Education department for two class periods a day. She had a separate roster of kids who were in my class, but those kids still qualified for Special Ed services. I never lowered my expectations for those kids, I always expected them to do the same work as everyone else and I hoped for the highest quality they were capable of producing. My co-teacher told me once that she thought that was a good approach and that she was excited to watch them rise to the challenge. I think that is the key -- understanding what each kid is capable of producing and then expecting them to produce at that level or maybe even push a little beyond.

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  26. I believe if I hold high expectations for my students and challenge them to become better language students everyday, they will work harder, put effort forth and complete tasks, activities or projects assigned to the best of their ability. Of course, not every student will meet these expectations but I hope to be able to encourage every student to do their best. I find students that no matter what you expect of them, they will always go beyond the expected…and on the other hand, there are always a few students that have not been successful in other classes and their own expectations are not high for themselves. I find it difficult sometimes to find a way to deal with them. I have one student that failed the first 9weeks this year. I have had multiple conversations with him and his guidance counselor. Finally his first grade of the second 9weeks was an A+ followed by an A-. I knew he was capable of passing my course. The only problem with him now is doing homework….and that is a huge problem!
    I also set high standards for myself in the classroom. The students recognize this often. I always return their turned in work the next day. Test, quizzes, homework, whatever it may be, they get it back the next day. I show them that I work hard and that they need to work hard also.

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  27. Teaching the Reading Intervention class, students think that I'm going to let them coast on through. I push them everyday, push them to always be beyond their personal best. I make students redo work that is not their personal best, often times redoing it multiple times until they are achieving the best they are capable of. I make them think outside the box. I don't allow them to say "I don't get it" and rely on their struggles, but instead I make them reflect on what they don't get and they have to ask more specific questions when they are confused.

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  28. The best example of high expectations set in my classroom would have taken place last year when I completed my first project based learning unit. It was centered around mythology and incorporated our mythology blue print (an assignment I have mentioned in an earlier post). Students worked tirelessly on their assignments and developing their speeches for their panel of board members. Our board members included our Superintendent, Curriculum Director, Principal, Assistant Principal, School Psychologist, Guidance Counselors, Librarian, etc...all the BIG WIGS!! Come presentation day I couldn't tell who was more nervous, me or the students. It was their day to shine and to show off all the hard work they poured into their curriculum over the past several weeks. It was a huge success, they came nicely dressed, were well prepared, and did an amazing job in front of an incredibly intimidating audience for a seventh grade student. This project taught me to always keep my expectations high for my classes because they will always rise above.

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  29. This year, my own expectations are being challenged. We have a group of 8th grade students at our school this year who are particularly low-motivated and squirrelly. I knew I would be teaching an 8th grade general music class this year, and was apprehensive about how I would manage the behavior and keep the students' interest in the class, a topic which they usually don't care a whole lot about. But, they have pleasantly surprised me thus far this year. I've tried to lead off the semester with the more "fun" units to try to grab their interest and attention, and they have really stepped up to be great participants in class. They are active in discussions, willingly participate in dances (when we learned various types of world music) and have not displayed many of the negative behaviors I was expecting from this group. Now that I know what they are capable of, I can adjust how I teach the rest of the units throughout the year so as to continue to challenge and expect more from the group as a whole.

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  30. It is extremely important to challenge students to achieve the most they possibly can. Setting high expectations and then being able to achieve them is a huge motivator.

    In the area of math though, once they are at the high school level, it is very important that they are placed in the correct math course. It is very frustrating that the state of Indiana requires everyone to start with Algebra. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready for this course. Those students still struggling with negative numbers or fractions are going to have a very difficult time. Also, any student with a very low reading level is going to struggle. It is almost impossible for them to even pass the algebra ECA. They become very discouraged.

    This year I teach all Geometry and we have 3 different levels. I teach the lowest and the middle levels. I feel that the courses really push the students to work hard at the material. Last year I had a girl who asked me for extra credit because she was afraid that she would not pass the course. We had one more test to go and I informed her that I did not offer extra credit. I reminded her that if she worked hard that she should do just fine on the test. She struggled but worked really hard. She ended up getting a C on the test. She was just thrilled because she had some low test scores previously. I think she realized that she could learn the material, it just took her a little more work. She ended up passing the course and was able to graduate.

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  31. I have always bought into the idea that students will rise (or sink) to your expectations. When we expect students to do well and give then the necessary support, they can take responsibility for their part and we both win. Of course not all kiddos fall into this frame but I do my best to keep my procedures predictable and my expectations clear. Its easier to get everyone on your "side" when they know exactly what to expect and that you are going to follow through with the plan you've laid out. I am generous with my praise and go out of my way to make connections with my students. Building those relationships helps everyone feel safe and supported. Not every lesson is easy for everyone. We encourage each other and work as teams to practice new content. I teach 4th grade so I also talk to students about taking responsibility for their own learning. I use examples and modeling so they can see what behaviors are conducive to helping them and what behaviors are hindering their progress.

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  32. I feel like my expectations of my students have not been high enough. As a reading interventionist, I sometimes let the students write and share without me correcting their work. They take pride in their work that they did without assistance. However, the older students will try to get away with writing as little as possible. It is hard to know how much to push the stuggling student to correct and re-correct his/her writing. I definitey plan to work more on revisions in my groups. I want them to not only be able to read their own writing, but for classmates to be able to read it as well. I do believe my students are more capable than they think so I need to share my belief with them. It was good for me to read this chapter and to read all of your postings.

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  33. I think it the classroom today it isn't just about setting expectations high. It is about setting them high and then making sure the students believe you can get them there. Outside of the classroom I am also a swim coach. When I tell a swimmer what event I envision them swimming, sometimes I get the worst looks. They tell me they don't even know how to do that stroke, or there is no way they can swim that distance. But I just simply say, if you let me, I can get you there. I tell them not to tell me anything else. No rebuttals, no arguments, no whining. I just want them to accept it, and know that I will be right there with them, helping them all the way. It's the same with students in the classroom. If you simply tell them "you are all going to pass this class" but you don't give them the confidence to back it up, it is a very defeating statement. Kids who haven't passed classes before wonder how in the world you can make that statement and don't believe you. But if you simply tell them to try and that you will be there the whole way to help them, it gives them a sense of confidence and determination. I have been surprised on more than one occasion when I have set the bar high and had many students rise to it, and go far above.

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  34. I am a firm believer that children will live up to whatever expectation that I have for them. That being said, I try to keep my expectations positive. My students are young, but I expect them to treat each other kindly, to do their best (even when it's not their favorite thing to do!), and to work hard. For the most part, they live up to these expectations each and every day.

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  35. The students must know and believe that they are important and you believe in them. I have high expectations for them and encourage them to give their best effort. I make my expectations clear, and make sure they know the reasons for my high expectations. Most importantly because I want them to learn and succeed! Staying positive is key to their success. If they get a bad grade, I talk to them about it, mistakes they've made, study habits, etc. Then discuss what to do next time. With my students as well as my own children I tell them they must give 100% effort, school is their job and responsibility. If they know I believe in them they try so hard and are proud of their work.

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  36. I am having a similar year to how another participant mentioned, which is frustrating. I have always had high standards in my classroom for my students as individuals and as students. I know that the expectations for students and for teachers are increasing with the same payout, but I refuse to lower my standards. I have given bonus, played games, offered treats, etc. and a large portion of the students that I have right now are content with their low grades. Normally, in years past, if I had offered bonus, special treats, etc. the students would have been very motivated and excited to rise to the occasion. I continue to remind myself of the young man that I had a few years ago as a freshman that has since come back to me and said, I am the man I have become because of your persistence in wanting me to do well. I must remind myself, that I can only do so much and it does become up to them to rise to the occasion. There are no better words to hear than what this young man has shared, I just need to remind myself of this when the frustration arises.

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  37. There have been several times this year I have asked students to redo assignments or look back over their work because they didn't complete it to their full potential. I let them know when I have them retry these things that they realize I am having them complete it because I know they can do better. Unfortunately, I have a few parents who are constantly not supportive of their child's education. They disagree when I have their child redo or retry something. Even though I hear this from the parents I will continue to do this same procedure because I know it is helping them become successful. I have one student who has an IEP and isn't with me all day long. After meeting with his mother I realized he was capable of three digit by three addition. However, his math teacher and I had him doing one digit by one digit addition. He showed us he can do it when pushed, and it was definitely an eye opener to prove never let a child "just do what you can" phrase. We have to hold them up to a higher standard, so they will be a better, successful person in the future.

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  38. When I taught 4th grade in Atlanta, I had a class of 28 students – 26 of them were ELs and 8 of them were labeled with a learning disability. As I began to learn about my students in the first of the school year, I realized that these special ed students were not motivated. It became apparent that these students had never had someone to set high expectations for them in their education. I don’t say this to judge the teachers in the grades before me; it’s just that that is not my teaching style or personality. I pushed these students and it was a struggle at first. The students pushed back and resisted working for me. I always made sure that I had things they could do that would help build their confidence. I worked very hard to differentiate work for them. I ended up looping with them to the 5th grade and kept work on setting high expectations. It was amazing to see these students’ confidence grow over the two years. There reading levels also went from a 1st grade to end of 3rd grade. It made me realize how important it is to set high expectations for all students.

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  39. I teach Geometry in special education and most of my students struggle with it. At times though, they catch on to concepts and you can see their excitement knowing that they "got it!" It's also really cool to see them helping each other! They also learn the same concepts as the regular education students learn. Just last week, they actually did a PROOF! They weren't sure what that meant, so I told them, it's the hardest thing in Geometry to do, and they were quite proud of themselves!

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  40. This is the area I struggle with the most! Since I am a preschool teacher there are so many levels of learning and whether or not it is developmentally appropriate. I set expectations with skills but with my 3 year olds my main expectation is social understanding and building self confidence. Then when I jump to my 4-5 year olds and I am preparing them for kindergarten my expectations drastically change. Now my expectations are skill and more academic related to prepare them for kindergarten. While I know that this is what they need, I struggle with whether it is developmentally appropriate.I do have set goals for each month but they are always changing !! When I see one of my kiddos struggling I really have to have a heart to heart with the parent to see what their expectations are. Then I take that path or direction. Some parents want me to push their child and others understand that learning at this time can be tricky. Above all I want to make the child feel loved and successful at what ever level of learning he is comfortable with.

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  41. RCA sounds like a wonderful place to teach with all kinds of resources and flexibility that teachers in public school classrooms just don't have. This was a very inspirational chapter to read and it opens your eyes to how things could be. I think most educators want the best for the students they teach and are constantly pushing them to reach higher standards. Now, whether the students and parents buy into that philosophy is another story.

    It is so important for students to be "seen" and to feel special. Although I see over 900 kids a week, I know almost all of the students' names (except for the kindergartners - haven't learned all their names yet) and I try to call them by name, smile and acknowledge them as much as possible whether it is in the library, the hall or the local grocery store. We all want to feel significant, that we matter, and that someone believes in us. A word of encouragement can go a long way.

    As the librarian, I don't give grades but I do have high expectations for behavior and sometimes we have to practice things like listening and following directions when they seem to forget the library rules. I actually take time out just to focus on that before moving on even if that turns out to be my lesson for the day! Sometimes we are just practicing what I consider to be standard behaviors but I expect more from them and we will practice until they get it.

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  42. Th more I read, the more I realize how much the school this woman teaches at is NOT like the one I teach it. Admittedly, I would love it if it were, but that is not the case, and I struggle to see how to apply a lot of these idyllic circumstances into my own. Expectations are something I am constantly trying to adjust and maintain in my classroom. At the beginning of this year, I had really adjusted my expectations too high. This caused both my students and I stress. I didn't want to lower them so much as make the kiddos feel like they could succeed.

    One part of this chapter that I really did connect with is the part about recognizing each child for their strengths and value. I am trying to make that even more obvious to my students as I meet with each one. The other day I pulled some kids out and realized I might have only spoken with them directly once or twice the whole year. I don't think that's acceptable and something I'm going to work on.

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  43. Sometimes a child comes into your classroom and either is unmotivated or has a behavior problem. It could be because of previous teachers or parents' expectations. I am one that believes that expectations can have a huge impact on a child in any classroom. I had a student who had behavior issues in elementary school and his parent was also unmotivated to make changes to what she expected at home. His misbehaviors did not vanish because I became his teacher, but because my expectations for his behavior at school varied greatly compared to previous teachers and to what his mom expected at home, after a couple of months in middle school his behavior at school improved.

    When it came to academic expectations, I made sure that my students knew that I expected them to learn to the best of their ability, not just enough to get by. I wanted them to be the best that they could be and I encouraged them daily.

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  44. Looking at overall goals and expectations - socially, academically, spiritually, behaviorally, and developmentally- for my students to reach by the end of the kindergarten year! However, when school starts it is always a challenge to figure out where each student is in their own journey and within the overall goals. Some students have attended preschool, some this is their first structured environment, some are anxious to learn to read and others need to get their letter recognition down.
    Once their "baseline" is determined, each student then needs to be given and guided through steps to obtain their goals- including the tools to get there and encouragement! It is a constant cycle of keeping kids challenged and growing though the learning process!
    I have been surprised by a students performance before! Several times, a student has read a more difficult book or completed a challenging task purely out of interest for the topic/book and their desire to do it because of their personal interest!

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  45. Our School is embracing Whole Brain Teaching. One component that I love using is the Super Improver Wall. This wall is meant to give students personal goals to achieve. Everyone has their own goals to work on. At first, I thought it was going to be very difficult to achieve. However, the students really to grasp the concept of working and improving on personal goals. Some of my lowest students ran with it. One goal I sent for several of my lower readers was to improve their AR percent point goals by 10%. Once my students received that with some effort they could achieve this. One student how has shown very little effort all year has suddenly shown greater interest. Now that he has passed everyone in the amount of goals he has achieved, he is working harder than ever to stay ahead of everyone. Here was a student who I felt like have given up and all the sudden he is my shining star. It was such a wonderful surprise. Parents were wondering what I was doing to get him to actually be interested in working so hard. I thought that I was asking too much of students when in all reality I set the bar high and several who I never expected have reached it. They really stepped it up which in turn has increased my expectations.

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  46. Although I want to hold all my students to high expectations, I admit that I am tougher with my accelerated class than I am with my regular academic classes. Part of this is because I know the majority of these students have access to resources that many of the students in the lower classes do not have. Just because my expectations are lower for my regular academic classes it does not mean that I expect them to perform with any less effort. As the year progresses, I raise my expectations for the quality of work that is produced in each class. If my students think that I do not expect that they can do well, they won’t be motivated to even try. I praise their efforts even if they do not always succeed.

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  47. I work with struggling students so while high expectations are important. I find that I need to start out with expectations that all students can meet. Then gradually over time I increase the expectations high enough so they are all working at grade level. I do think high expectations are important, but I also think teachers need to be flexible as many younger students cannot work at the same high level for the entire school year. I try to be reasonable about my expectations.
    I have been pleasantly surprised by how students change from one school year to the next. One student I had as a 9th grader was an exceptionally low student. He was missing basic skills so he failed the first semester of Algebra I. I taught the repeat class in the spring and he passed but still with a low C. He spent his sophomore year trying to pass 2nd semester Algebra I. He was recommended for our alternative program and I teach this section of Algebra I also. This fall, as an 11th grader, I see such an amazing student. He has really grown in his Algebra I skills. In addition, he already has passed both the ECA in Algebra I and English. Given the gaps I observed his freshman year, I am so impressed at how well this student has done. I will keep this student in mind as I teach my 9th graders. Students grow so much in just one school year, teachers need to keep an open mind. With your confidence in their abilities, a student will always grow more.

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  48. I Appreciate the author's words," Oftentimes, we have to identify the greatness within another before they are able to see it in themselves..." I really do think students( people) will trust us to push them with high expectations when we are in tune to their strengths. Sometimes showing them the bridge can help with some challenges as well as excel in our interest. Learning from mistakes should be celebrated. Students learn so much when allowed to correct or fix them after they understand. Personally, I don't like to grade a paper , hand it back, and call it done. I feel we learn from mistakes. I like to allow students more time and when they understand why items are incorrect, they can redo it and turn it back in. Expectations to not give up and to always seek to make something better, is a tiring process. But without them, I would have students who would be happy to "ride the wave."

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