Educational Rule #1: Students live up or down to their teachers' expectations of them.

Educational Rule #2: Students live up or down to their teachers' expectations of them.

Educational Rule #3: Students live up or down to their teachers' expectations of them.

Educational Rule #4: Students live up or down to their teachers' expectations of them.


Yes, it’s that important. Study upon study, over many decades, shows that expectations of low or high achievement by their students become self-fulfilling. Teachers who communicate explicit or implicit high expectations to their students will find those expectations met. Conversely, those who implicitly communicate low expectations will turn students off, making them rebellious and negative. Some will counter this with some stern warnings about expectations being set too high, and of course that can be a temptation, but we’re professionals – we know what high enough is for an individual. As the popular meme has it: “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”


Try not to listen to other teachers when they dismiss a student. While it is tempting to go into your first meeting with Ryan in 9F with a plan of attack, anticipating the worst, it won’t be a good start for either of you. Ryan probably expects to be hauled up quickly by every teacher he encounters. It’s practically his stock in trade. Try to treat him like every other student; he may surprise you. Look out for something positive in him. Comment on it briefly and move on. Don’t allow him to think you’re getting him onside just because you’ve heard of his reputation (even though you may be), but just be as positive with him as you are with the others. (Do not engage him negatively in the classroom if he stumbles from the path, but have a 'more in sorrow than in anger' chat at the end of the lesson, reinforcing any necessary sanction, but also offering help to repair behaviour in the next lesson. But that's a different post.)


The Strictly Positive teaching model, which leads teachers to explicit recognition of positive expectations, whether in behaviour or academic terms, by all students, will lead students to share those high expectations and recognise their own steps towards them. Obviously this does not mean you have the same expectations of each student, but you should aim to allow each student to push at the boundaries of their own abilities.


Students who see you recognising them as a someone with possibility will repay you for it.

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