Never Lower Expecations

Every teacher wants the students in the class to learn the required material, be happy and excel. It is a worthy goal and one that is very hard to reach. There may be students with very different levels of ability in the classroom. A teacher is faced with the conundrum of finding balance and teaching each student.

It is important to recognize the parents of the students play a big role in the expectations of schooling. It is the job of the teacher to create a partnership with the parents and the student. If the parents believe that “good enough” really is, is a teacher suppose to accept that? Maybe.

Many teachers want all the students to exceed at the same level. This is an unrealistic and unhealthy attitude. Some students will simply do enough to pass the class and some parents are fine with that. This doesn’t mean teachers should lower the requirements so the B becomes a C. Doing that would adversely affect students who strive and work hard for that 4.0. 

Teachers can certainly celebrate the successes that every student makes. For example, perhaps sometimes the teacher could highlight the things that are well done, instead of the mistakes. When a student makes progress, even if they don’t reach the finish line there is something to be said for the attempt. However, it would teach the student to expect things from the world that simply won’t happen.

There are many different beliefs about what makes a person educated. Does all education have to take place in a school to be valid? Does being a carpenter mean that the person is uneducated and can only do that or is it that the person loves to work with woods and finds it brings happiness and contentment.

A young man went to college. He had been valedictorian of his high school. He found that book learning came fairly easy. Most things just made sense to him. He signed up for 32 credits and the school contacted the parents. He was only 17, so the parents had to be involved. They carefully explained that if his grades were bad that he would lose his scholarships.  A very wise father said, “Well, some of the best lessons in life come from not reaching the goal. I don’t know if he can do it or not, but I am not going to stand in the way of him learning a valuable lesson. Either way it works out, he will have learned.”

The education system would be a far better place if the goal was about learning and preparing students for the life they want. Some kids want to learn about biology and science because they want to be farmers and have great success. They are willing to pay accountants to handle the taxes and money issues, because that is what accounts excel in doing.

Perhaps failing a class in school is more of a life lesson then a 4.0 when a student graduates. Each student is different. You don’t change the rules for one student, or even ten. You change the way you teach and where the focus is. Never lower expectations, always celebrate successes.