Changing Teacher Expectations for Students

Research shows that teacher expectations affect the performance of students. If teachers are led to believe that students are capable of great academic progress, they will teach so that the students fulfill those expectations. If they have other expectations, such as “boys are disruptive,” they will act according to those expectations.

The question is how to change teacher expectations. It is not enough for teachers to try to have high expectations for all students, and apparently just giving teachers information about students to change their view of them is not effective. However, teachers can be taught to respond differently to their students.

A recent news story on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition entitled “Teachers’ Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform” describes new efforts to try to change teacher expectations by teaching the teachers how to respond differently to students. Teachers were asked to video tape their classrooms. They then reviewed the video tapes with coaches who gave recommendations on different approaches.

It should not come as a great surprise that the approaches to changing teacher expectations of students are the same that child parenting experts recommend. Those approaches can be summarized as follows: get to know the student by observing and speaking with him, appreciate the student and connect with them at their level, reflect upon your own experiences, and try different approaches.