When I first read this prompt, I was mostly thinking about the this and that's we attend to for practical reasons. The tasks we set about around our teaching that keep the mechanics in motion. But it strikes me we spend lots of time debating these pieces and less about when we MUST do for students. What is it that is the distilled signal in the noise.
That is - I think - to honor our students.
In a recent episode of NPR's Invisibelia*, the hosts share several stories of how our expectations shape not only our own behavior but each other's behavior. From lab rats who perform significantly different based on the researchers beliefs about its IQ, to a blind boy who "sees" because he never learned to expect less of himself, the evidence isn't hard to accept. What is most interesting is just how powerful it is when we communicate our expectations and how subtly, without even knowing, we communicate them.
We all try to be conscious of communicating high expectations. Assigning challenging tasks, using purposeful grouping and feedback. But these explicit decisions may not be enough. A piece of research - shared by Carol Dweck in this podcast - explains how we are often not aware of our expectations for another person or how we are communicating. By how much eye contact we make. How often, how loudly, with which words we talk to others. All of these behaviors and many more reveal how we feel AND impact the other person's learning.
So - if we don't want to demonstrate low expectations for our students, but we know we can't be conscious or aware of how we communicate our expectations, then the only choice we have is to ACTUALLY BELIEVE in every student's potential. To know beyond knowing that every student has potential and power. This is what we are obliged to do every day.
*This is an amazing podcast; check it out.