Redefining Expectations

Whether you were in Ocean City, attended a local conference, or worked here at OM, I hope you all found Friday to be pleasantly productive.  As we gear up for SADD’s Kick Butts Week, I hope you’ll find time to participate and talk-up, not just the activities, but the meaning of each.  Your messages to students make a difference!

This week’s column is courtesy of Mr. Girch with a charge to self-reflect and set goals for yourself and your students.  Have a great week!

Redefine your expectations By: Shawn M. Girch

What is a culture of high expectation? Is it something that we exude? “Create a culture of high expectations!” This is something that we have encountered throughout our teaching career, but does anyone really understand or know how to do this?

As teachers and administrators we want to project high academic expectations for our students and hold them accountable for their behavior. This is said to be the formula for developing students who will go on to prosper at a high level in society. Are we doing what is needed in order to develop our students? Are we holding ourselves to the same standards that we expect from our students?  Does our behavior exemplify what we want from the students? How does the enforcement or lack thereof impact the overall reciprocity of our school as a whole?

These are questions that I have encountered in my short teaching career and questions that I try to ask myself regularly. Students are extremely impressionable and many teenagers use referent power to figure out whom they want to follow. With constant comparison from the community to the bigger schools, the better schools, and the higher performance of schools, it is essential that our leaders (teachers and administrators) are avidly involved in the lives of our students.

Reaching the students is a struggle for many teachers across the country. Those teachers that do not simply “take an interest” but also “show an interest” by attending school events continually receive high levels of achievement from students. How can we as teachers hold our students to a high expectation while asking them to concentrate on class work and assignments outside of class time if we do not do the same? Participation in all school activities is a trait of a positive school culture. Schools across the country that display a high involvement of teachers also show a positive school culture.

When teachers decide on this profession it is not chosen lightly. Many times we are called upon to help students after class, grade papers on a Tuesday night, or chaperone a Saturday football game. As we would say to our students, simply meeting the lowest criteria is not enough to earn an A. Only doing the bare minimum will result in a merely satisfactory or subpar score. As a school it is essential that we do a little more. We need to raise our personal level of expectation in order to create a positive culture of high expectations. I challenge every teacher, administrator, and staff member to become more involved with the school and put in the time that we ask of our students. We must become a competitive school on all levels and attract more students to our programs if we seek to inspire as many young people as possible.

We cannot hold our students to high expectations if we are doing the bare minimum, it just does not make sense! Remember just like we have expectations for our students, they in return look to us as mentors and leaders with a high level of expectations as well. Do not lower the expectations of students but instead raise the expectations of yourself. Henry Adams expressed a teachers presence when he said “A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.” Remember that no matter what we do to lead students “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own” Ben Sweetland.

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