Expectations are everywhere in a school. Some are high, and some are ridiculously high. Some are low and some are even nonexistent. Yes expectations are everywhere in a school, but I often ask myself what makes kids commit to them and what make them resent and actually run away from them.
The interesting thing about expectations is that they can actually cancel one another out. Think about it. If Teacher A has a set of expectations that Teacher B doesn't believe in or doesn't have those same expectations, then kids will resent Teacher A for expecting too much. Conversely, parents could resent Teacher B for not having the same high expectations as Teacher A, thus parents aren't as supportive of what Teacher B is trying to accomplish.
Furthermore, let's think about our kids and where they come from. Some kids come from inconsistent homes where expectations very from day to day or from parent to parent. Therefore, those same kids come to school with inconsistent expectations and then we become frustrated when kids don't want to follow 8 more and different sets of expectations from 8 different teachers.
If we want kids to reach the highest levels of achievement and therefore excellence, it's not the kids who need to get on the same page with us. It's us educators who are not on the same page with one another. We must remember this; expectations that are high, tight and ultimately consistent are the expectations that have the greatest chance of being followed by the kids for one reason and one reason only.
Kids learn best and grow the most in consistent learning environments, and we have complete control and choice on just how consistent that environment can be.
The funny thing about expectations is this. Kids will reach them if we educators will commit to working interdependently to achieve a common goal by creating common learning spaces with common expectations for learning. That is essentially the secret to excellence. Expectations created in isolation will leave you isolated and overwhelmed, but expectations created through collaboration and calibrated with ongoing collaboration will yield far greater results.
As you finish the school year, ask yourself a few questions.
- Do I have the same expectations as my colleagues with whom I share kids?
- Do our expectations support our learning goals?
- Do we work together to stay consistent with one another on a regular basis?
- Do we work together to address students or groups of students who fail to meet those expectations?
- Do we work together to enrich and empower students when they meet our expectations?
The answers to these questions may uncover the next step to pushing your team or even your school to the pinnacle of excellence in student learning. Expectations are all over the place, but the best schools make sure their expectations are unified and uniting educators around one thing, supporting all kids.