Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Setting Expectations for Students.

There is all the talk about not having so many expectations for people- because in the end, you won't always be left disappointed when they don't meet them...especially in relationships:  You are supposed to enter the relationship "expectation free" to yield the best results.  Sylvia Plath wrote:
"If you expect nothing from anybody, you are never disappointed."

So, basically we are told to lower, or have no expectations at all in order to be truly happy.

This may be true in "real life" outside of the classroom, but if you are involved in education, you know that this does not apply to the classroom.  I mean, all we do is talk about "high expectations" for our students;  If you set the expectation, they will rise to the challenge. 
But, won't we constantly be left feeling disappointed when they don't reach our "high expectations?"  Yet, I am not supposed to lower my expectations....   hm.

I started pondering this question when I was left feeling disappointed, yet again, after an experience my class had with another class during Mystery Skype.  I was so excited for my class to Skype and based on another teacher's video that I saw on her blog of her class skyping, I couldn't wait to watch them perform!

I realized that before I had even observed them in the activity for the first time, I set expectations of what it should look like and when they did not perform like I expected them to, I was left feeling disappointed.  From what I saw and comparing that to my expectations, they lacked in their communication skills, their ability to work together, their logical thinking, etc... 

But were they really lacking just because they were not meeting my expectations?  Or, should I have first observed them and set my expectations from their baseline skills?

I quickly realized that I should not have expected them to do so much so soon, and that it is important in the classroom, before setting expectations for our students, that we get a baseline observation.  I am confident that if we continue to participate in these Mystery Skype calls, that my students will rise to the high expectations that I have set for them.  I will continue to work with them to build upon the skills that they do have in order to maximize their performance in the various skill areas that Mystery Skype addresses.

So I have come to a few conclusions about setting expectations for students based on our class's experience with Mystery Skype: 

1)  That you have to be able to take a little bit of disappointment; don't let it get to you!  You may not be satisfied along the way as your students will not always be performing up to your expectations, but in the end, it will be worth it. 

2)  You need to set your expectations from baseline observations of your students.  Figure out where they are and then set the goals of where you want them to be.  Make them high, but reasonable, and they will be able to rise to the challenge with your guidance and support.

When I looked at Mystery Skype and thought about all of the skills that it addressed with my students, I decided that I should not judge my students based on their first performance.  That I should take their first try and then set expectations for the next Skype.  If we participate in these Skype lessons on a semi-regular basis, my students will only become better and better and before long, be mastering these critical real-world skills.

The greatest thing is, is that they won't even realize it because they are having so much fun :)  They already can't wait to do it again!

A few aspects and skills that are involved in Mystery Skype, which makes it an incredibly beneficial activity:

Planning, connecting, collaborating, responsibility, logical thinking, decision making, cultural awareness, accountability, communication, team work, determination.

1 comment:

  1. You got me thinking about expectations now. I agree that we should be setting high expectations for our students but should not be disappointed when they don't meet them, the first time. For many of our students, this may have been the first time the students had to collaborate and think logically in an authentic setting. I know that with time and practice they will meet and even surpass your initial expectations :)