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Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement

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Teacher expectations and student achievement are intimately connected. I believe that it is important to make sure that the students know what your expectations are, even for something as simple as entering the classroom, getting materials, handling materials, clean uo, and exiting the classroom. I start with explaining why I expect what I do. This may be why I expect you to enter the room in an orderly fashion, why I expect you to sit, not rock, in your chair, and so on. I start by discussing the desired activity. I then model, not tell, the entire process, step by step. Next I will choose one or more students to model the activity. After this, I will guide the entire class through the process, and then we will repeat until the goals and expectations are clear and have been met. I apply this technique to just about everything we do in the classroom, and if the students forget, we go through the entire process again as needed. Making sure that basic housekeeping expectations are clear and understood makes it easier when new activities are introduced in the classroom. When students know what they are expected to do, they feel more secure and confident.

I am also very careful to be sincere in my praise, talk to my students (not down to them), and ask higher level questions. In many cases, teachers use a range of actions with low achievers that decipher their lowered expectations to their students; these include insincere praise, less feedback, less eye contact, and allowing fewer opportunities to respond to a question (Gottfredson, Marciniak, Birdseye & Gottfredson, 1991). Because these actions are quantifiable, teachers can build up an inventory of strategies to help make expectations more equitable in the classroom; or to raise expectations for lower achievers while maintaining them for high achievers. When these actions are used cooperatively and impartially among students they work together to construct an environment where all students have the prospect to be successful. TESA, Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement, identified 15 explicit behaviors teachers can adjust to display higher expectations to all students. The authors group these behaviors into three categories: behaviors that affect academic achievement, behaviors that provide constructive feedback and behaviors that affect self-esteem (Cantor, Kester, & Miller, 2000). Specific teacher behaviors comprise increasing the wait time between question and answer, asking higher level questions to all students, providing specific praise, and providing specific feedback on work (Rodriguez & Bellanca, 2007). Such acts communicate higher expectations to students; for example, if a teacher calls on a student to answer a question and then straight away goes on to another student if no response is imminent, the teacher expresses the expectation that they did not actually anticipate that the student will know the answer. On the other hand, if the teacher pauses



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