Helping Students Fulfil Their Potential By Rising Expectations

Almost five decades have passed since Pygmalion in The Classroom was published by R. Rosenthal and L. Jacobson. The now infamous research on how teachers’ expectations can influence student performance triggered reform in teaching methods and education systems around the world. We’ve prepared a list of essential guidelines showing how you can raise students’ expectations in order to help them fulfil their true potential.

Avoid Having Low Expectation in The Classroom

Teachers’ expectations about a student’s achievement can be affected by factors having little or nothing to do with his or her ability, and yet these expectations can determine the level of achievement by confining learning opportunities to those available in one’s track.
J. Brophy and T.L. Good: Teacher behavior and Student Achievement

Teachers tend to negatively categorize students based on factors such as race and sex, students’ speaking patterns or even their sitting posture. Teachers may have low expectations from less favored students. This can trigger a harmful chain reaction, where some students will be exposed to less learning material and be given less time to participate in class, thus inevitably attaining lower grades.

Teachers should be conscious of such patterns and give every student fair treatment. Raise expectations, expect every student to do and try to achieve his or her best, while keeping in mind their talents and abilities. Communicate your expectations in a clear way and give feedback after tasks have been completed. This way, students will receive a sense of continuity in their study progression.

Parents, Get Involved

Teachers admit that it’s difficult to motivate students when parents are less involved in their studies. One urban elementary school, where students’ parents were often too poor to join a PTA, kicked started a program and created its own parent group. As a result 75 percent of parents started attending meetings and learning about the school curriculum, as well as learning about the importance of continuous study progress. At home, the parents were able to communicate with and motivate their children to work harder and not to be afraid of tackling challenges.

Cultivate High Self-Expectations

When teachers and parents continuously express their expectations, it triggers confidence in students and helps them develop a growth oriented mindset . A fixed mindset about intelligence restrains students; they think they are only as smart as nature intended them to be. In contrast, students with growth mindset about intelligence start to understand that progress and success can be achieved over time, if only they put in the necessary amount of work.

“In this case, nurture wins over nature just about every time,” writes J. Rae-Dupree in her NY Times column, when exploring the importance of fulfilling one's potential by cultivating a growth mindset.

Comment on our Facebook page and see what others have to say.