…it’s not going to happen!
Much like Gretchen Wieners, sometimes teachers try to make ‘lowering our expectations’ a thing. We do this the most when we are met with particularly challenging or impacted students.
I simply ask the question: Is this what is best for kids?
Does little Johnny need someone to feel sorry for him and lower expectations? Is that what will happen when the Johnny gets out into the real world?
Your middle or high school students will rise or lower to your expectations. YOU set the bar. THEY climb or stumble down it. Your job is not to pick the kid up and carry the student on your back. Your job is simply to throw them the rope and pull up. (Make sure the kid is hanging on!)
I remember a lot about my graduate program, but one message stood out in a major way: Your students are NOT your charity.
In Spanish, there’s a phrase for this type of deficit thinking: pobrecito (or pobrecita). This phrase pretty much means: “Awwww, my poor
baby student, I have to bend over backwards for him because he just isn’t capable?
KILL. THAT. NOISE.
I won’t lie–It’s easy as a teacher to fall into the trap of projecting your own insecurities onto the children by making excuses for them. Below I provide 3 reasons it’s unproductive to think of your students as charity cases that you need to save:
- Most Middle and High School kids understand things in black and white. What does this mean? Well, it means that your students need choices and consequences. Simple. If a student disrespects you or neglects to take care of her responsibilities, there is a consequence for that. This is the nature of existence. There are laws. The end.
- Lectures= Instant Charlie Brown Voice. This is the absolute worst. I remember my mother lecturing me as a teen in middle school. I won’t lie, sometimes they were very effective because my mom is a sly Scorpio and has a way of making me feel like a devil child.(Love you, mom!) However, usually in a classroom, a full blown lecture pretty much turns into a complaint fest for the teacher at best, and builds a wall of great distrust between student and teacher. I’m sure it makes a student think: “This sounds like a personal problem.” or “Why doesn’t this crazy lady get help?” Honestly, the kids that will feel sorry for you are the kids who were already doing their job as student. If there is an issue with certain behaviors…give the kid a consequence and move on. I mean think about it…which would most likely change you: an hour lecture from your principal about how irresponsible you are, OR a ding in your paycheck? This is an extreme example but hopefully the point is clear.
- Challenge (within reach) breeds productivity. This goes back to the idea that if you lower your expectations, your students will also lower their willingness to put forth effort. It’s amazing as teachers how much our mindsets are linked to our students’ actions. I’ve personally tested this, and if you haven’t I advise you to: On a day when you’re not particularly enthralled with teaching(I know this is never you), try to feel your students’ energy on days like these. They’ll mirror you. The upside is that when you’re excited about life and full of energy and enthusiasm, the students seem to latch on to this energy as well. It really is all about setting the intention before class starts.
And if all else fails- your student may need counseling, but as a classroom instructor, it’s imperative your standards stay up.Think of yourself as this kid’s first boss!
Until next time!
xo, The Lady