Note: This is the fourth post in a series based on the book Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching by Robyn Jackson.
"If you want to raise your expectations of your students, you first have to raise your expectations of yourself. " (p. 85)Of the principles I've blogged about so far, principle 3, "Expect to get your students there" is one in which the self-assessment indicates may be a current strength. Several of my colleagues (perhaps those among this blog's audience may even attest to this) often pass off comments such as, "Don't you ever go home?" or "It's Friday, time to leave school for a few days!" I do not mention these comments to give myself some sort of virtual "pat on the back," but rather to support my perceived strength and a point Jackson makes on p. 91.
"The more important you believe something is, the more time, attention, and effort you will put forth to make it happen."I am not afraid to admit that I like my job as a high school math teacher. I enjoy the reverse commute from the "big city" to the "bedroom community" every morning and afternoon. In general, I truly look forward to the students and staff I interact with during the school year. I value my job as an ongoing opportunity for making a positive impact in the lives of the future generation. That's me. A worthwhile task that's a pleasure to take part in.
What about the students?
Is it fair to say that the students in your classroom and mine are frequently embarking in a "worthwhile task that's a pleasure to take part in"?
When I first started teaching, I thought my class was in good shape when they were all quietly working on a task I had assigned. Yikes, was I wrong! My value was on control rather than learning. Jackson makes another point that made much more sense to me recently,
This is why I, like others are suggesting, hope to implement a new "consequence" for not completing important tasks. The consequence is, "a new opportunity to learn it!"
"The consequence for not completing work or completing it well should be that students have to spend more time getting it done right." (p. 94)
This will not be an easy change to make in my classroom of high school students with jobs and extra-curricular activities. "Requiring" them to come in outside of class is not as easy as keeping an elementary student in from recess for remediation, but I think a few small changes can be made to better support this philosophy:
- Increase parent communication. Explain to parents early and often if/when their student is not "getting it" or "turning it in" and the value of coming in to "learn it."
- Look for the WHY. A question to be constantly reminded of is What can I do to help you, the student? Look for ways to figure out why a student is not turning in their assignment or what specific misconception he or she is struggling with.
What practical ways have you found to raise expectations of yourself and your students? Feel free to leave your comments below.
(On a related note, I want to welcome a new reader to MeTA musings, Robyn Jackson via Twitter!)