Living up to my teacher’s expectations

What a teacher believes of a student, has power
It’s not overselling the influence a teacher has when we say that what a teacher expect from their students will come true. I’ve experienced this first hand as a student and as a teacher and I’ve heard these narratives play out in the therapy room of children who struggle academically at school.

I didn’t like biology or accounting because I believed that those teachers didn’t like me and didn’t believe in me. Whether that was an accurate perception on my side was irrelevant, because it was my reality. I loved Economics, Mathematics and Languages because those teachers had a good relationship with me and it felt as if they cared about me and believed in me. This directly influenced the subjects and career choices I made!

A teacher’s expectations
Teachers have a responsibility to have expectations which won’t limit children. Here are some practical tips for your classroom:

1. Choose who child that you don’t think will pass your subject and spend  an extra half hour with them per week. Sit with them during a free period or during break and help them with the things they struggle with. Do this with a positive attitude and show them that you care. The fact that you do this will have a bigger impact than what you actually do during that time. This child will work harder to try and live up to your expectations of them.

2. Choose the “naughty�? child who always disrupts your class and give them a special responsibility. Whether it is to take the register or to hand out books, they will soon flourish under the positive attention you give them. Children will do anything for attention, even if it’s negative attention such as reprimands. By replacing this with positive attention you can communicate the message that you see more in them and this could change their behaviour. They probably think you don’t like them… time to change this perception!

3. Choose the child who always does everything they should. Some children become invisible by following the rules so that no attention is drawn to them. Make time for a chat about anything other than schoolwork. They will feel important and feel like they matter.   Soon you will hear about hopes and dreams and maybe even things they struggle with.

4. Choose every child every day. Look past naughty or disruptive behaviour, look past your own personal feelings and see the uniqueness. Help your students to realise that they are special and that you believe in them. Tell them this, make it part of a classroom slogan, but most of all, show them that you care!

You might want to read about your mental fitness to teach.