In order to be effective teachers – striving to get the best from our pupils – it’s important to set clear expectations. When teachers and parents show a consistent belief in a child’s capacity, they are more like to achieve at a higher level. Now, setting high expectations does not equal constant drilling of a child and rewarding them with punishment, should they not achieve, but rather equals encouraging them to reach the potential you know they are capable of and finding ways to help them get there.
Understanding what constitutes high expectations is the first step, but the challenge for most teachers is upholding these beliefs in the classroom. The best way to overcome this challenge is to inspire, motivate and challenge your pupils.
To inspire is to generate interest in a subject or topic and to make the content attractive for a pupil to want to know more about it. Pupils are more likely to be inspired and eventually intrinsically motivated, if they can relate to the content covered in lessons. It also stands to reason, that if the teacher is inspired by the topic, then it inadvertently sets the expectation for pupils to take them more seriously.
When it comes to motivating others, we first need to be self-motivated. Only then, can we genuinely be invested in our children. Setting achievable goals and laying the foundations for pupils, whilst monitoring their progress, needs to be a daily effort. There also needs to be a reward once these goals are achieved, remembering that we should set, short, medium and long term goals. Involving your pupils in the reward system is a very effective way of getting them to invest in their own journey towards reaching expectations that have been set for them.
Teachers need to remember that the actions of inspiring and motivating pupils without stretching their abilities and testing their skills, will slow down their progress dramatically. They might rapidly become demotivated as they realise the goals they are working towards are not challenging them to aim higher. Therefore, by challenging your pupils you are in fact, encouraging them to set their own expectations of themselves.
Ultimately, we should be working towards setting expectations that include creating independent and self-motivated learners. Through effective lesson planning and the use of unique relatable resources, we can convey to our children that they are worth investing in. And by acknowledging their improvements and efforts, we are demonstrating our belief in their ever growing potential and increasing their confidence to aim even higher.