Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Teachers’ beliefs impact the choices they make for their students, which then leads to student learning impacts. Merton determined that if a person accepted a premise as true, then the end result would be this premise coming true due to the actions the person would take. If students internalize the teacher’s expectations for them, then they tend to live up to them (self-fulfilling prophecy at work again). Teachers with low expectations for students tend to create learning environments that perpetuate the self-fulfilling prophecy.
Formation of Teacher Expectations Expectations predict achievement and achievement predicts expectations. Low-achievement and middle-achievement groups that are placed into higher-level groups improve beyond levels their previous grouping would have indicated what they were capable of accomplishing. Teachers examine the effort the student puts forth and utilize this to form expectations. Too often, teachers’ expectations based on effort do not match the actual achievement for those labeled high-level. Grade inflation may result from expectations based on effort for those labeled high-level and lower grades for those labeled low-level.
Formation of Teacher Expectations • Special Needs Students: Expectations are lower for achievement and behavioral outcomes. • Ethnicity: White students (compared to ethnic peers with similar achievement levels) are believed to have higher achievement, are less likely to be referred for special education services and more likely to be referred to gifted programs, and are more likely to have positive interactions with their teacher. • Social Class: Middle-class students tend to be placed in groups where higher expectations are evident based on the work students are being asked to complete. Middle-class students are more likely perceived as going to college and this could impact the learning activities they are being offered. • ***Research has shown that teachers with high expectations for all students have shown substantial gains for students coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
Formation of Teacher Expectations • Gender: Males tend to be viewed as more capable for math and science and females tend to be viewed more positively in reading. Girls are also perceived as having better behavior than boys. Once again, teachers who place high expectations within the class tend to create confident students who are engaged in their learning, despite gender stereotypes. • Stereotypes: Stereotypes can view the student in a positive light (Asians are good at math) or negative light (blondes are dumb). However, stereotypes can lead to labeling individuals. Stereotypes tend to inhibit teacher’s ability to see student’s individuality. • Physical Attractiveness: Physical attractiveness (physically attractive students are perceived as having higher achievement) of the student tends to impact teacher expectations early in the year, but this impact tends to disappear as the student-teacher relationship is developed.
Formation of Teacher Expectations • Language Styles: When the teacher and student language styles do not match, these students tend to have lower expectations placed on them. Students with good social skills and demonstrate compliance form good relationships with their teachers and this can lead to overestimation of achievement levels. • Similar Backgrounds: Students that have similar backgrounds to their teacher tend to have higher expectations placed on them. • ***Research shows teacher expectations have greater impact on younger students than older students.
Teacher Differential Behavior and Student Outcomes Teachers can differentiate their actions in the pursuit of providing different learning opportunities for students, but this can often lead to less learning opportunities for a group of students. Teachers most often use prior achievement data to help create differentiated learning plans for groups of students. It is important to consider whether the differentiation within instruction is enhancing learning or extending the achievement gap between low expectation students and their high expectation counterparts. Low expectation students fail to be challenged too often in the instruction.
Teacher Views Teacher can have two different views on student learning: Students “cannot learn are related to particular beliefs about ability: that is, that people are born with fixed amount of intelligence (often referred to as a fixed view of intelligence) People’s intelligence can be improved with appropriate teaching (often referred to as an incremental view of intelligence)”. The view of the teacher and their actions can set the tone for the culture of learning within the classroom as it restricts the learning opportunities for some students.
Teacher Actions in Working with Different Groups • Teachers are less likely to provide enough wait time for low expectation students. • Teachers are less likely to provide probing questions to low expectation students and are more likely to give them an answer. • Teachers are more likely to provide low expectation students inappropriate feedback through the use of praise when an answer is incorrect. • Teachers are more likely to criticize a low expectation student than their high counterparts. • Teachers are less likely to praise a low expectation student when they are successful in their learning when compared to their high counterparts. • Teachers are less likely to ask questions of low expectation students in front of the whole class and if questions are asked of them they are less likely to receive feedback. • Teachers provide less interaction time with low expectation students. • Teachers are less likely to ask a low expectation student questions. • Teachers are more likely to sit low expectation students in the back of the room.
Teacher Actions in Working with Different Groups • Teachers are more likely to ask for and demand less of low expectation students in their work than their high counterparts. • Teachers are more likely to interact with low expectation students in private and high expectation students in public. • Teachers are more likely to lower a grade on the borderline for low expectation and increase the grade for high expectation students. • Teachers are less likely to be warm in their interactions with low expectation students. • Teachers are more likely to provide low expectation students feedback that is not informative and does not lead them to figuring out their next step in learning. • Teachers are less likely to have as much eye contact with low expectation students than their high counterparts. • Teachers are more likely to work closely with low expectation students on their work, as they are less intrusive for high expectation students.
Teacher Actions in Working with Different Groups Students are able to determine that their teacher has different expectations of them and that they are being treated differently. When asked, students have reported their teachers being friendlier and more supportive to the high expectation students. Low expectation students are less likely to have their thinking extended, whereas their high counterparts are provided more challenging learning opportunities to push their thinking.
Teacher Actions in Working with Different Groups • Teacher beliefs impact their actions within the classroom. • Teacher beliefs can negatively impact the environment within their room and lead to less opportunity for low expectation students to learn. • Teachers with low self-efficacy of their instructional skills (believe their skills are not at a level to make a significant impact on low expectation students), tend to be less motivated to work with and challenge the low expectation students. They spend more time where they feel they can be successful (high expectation students). • Feeling unable to make a significant effect on the learning of low expectation students, teachers with low teaching efficacy may explain the lack of student progress by referring to deficits in the students’ families and cultures. • The low efficacy teachers also tend to refer more students to special education. • Teachers that view intelligence as fixed tend to have lower expectations for students and these views lead to lower results. • Non-verbal expressions are easily noticed by students and can lead to resentment.
Beliefs and Practices of Low Differentiating Students • Grouping of Students (Low differentiating teachers tend to group students in various ways, expect their students to support one another, have groups that change frequently, and do not make student ability references in these group settings.) • Deciding What to Teach: Materials and Activities (Low differentiating teachers tend to use comparable materials and activities for all students, focus on creating self-regulated learners through increased motivation, use divergent thinking tasks for all students, use collaborative learning opportunities to promote student growth, and clearly articulate to students that all work must be high quality.) • Views of Intelligence: Evaluating Students (Low differentiating teachers held the incremental view of intelligence, focused on increasing motivation for low expectation students, and promoted mistakes as learning opportunities.) • Enhancing Student Motivation (Low differentiating teachers focused on skill development rather than competition, created intrinsic motivation through collaborative learning opportunities, and had students working with all students by changing groups and seating arrangements.) • The Teacher’s Role and Student Responsibility (Low differentiating teachers used peer support to facilitate student growth, gave all students choices in their learning process and environment, and had students evaluate the effort they put forth in accomplishing their learning targets.) • Classroom Climate (Low differentiating teachers worked on creating a classroom as a community rather than competition through shared respect and support, used a positive tone when working with students, and the classroom was seen by students as relaxing and caring.)
High Expectation Teachers The expectation level a teacher places on student learning is positively related to academic gains. Stating high goals was not sufficient for teachers to be considered high expectation teachers, but instead these teachers must produce substantial learning gains for their students. It should be noted that high expectation teachers do not focus on proficiency by the end of the year (some teachers are working with students several years behind grade-level), but instead focus on students altering their “academic trajectory” to make substantial gains (growth focus). Low expectation teachers can stunt the academic growth of a child, but having multiple low expectation teachers in a row can cripple their chances for academic success and positive psychosocial attributes.
High Expectation Teachers Help Students… • Persevere • Act independently in their learning, embrace new challenging work • Increase interest in their schoolwork, stay cognitively engaged, actively participate in class • Stay motivated • Improve confidence and self-esteem • Follow classroom behavior norms • Form positive peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher relationships • Have higher homework completion rates
High Expectation Teachers • Provide challenging activities that excite all students; • Establish clear learning goals; • Allow students to set their own goals; • Act as facilitators of student goals; • Plan with student interests in mind to increase motivation; • Spend time monitoring their students’ progress; • Work to create peer collaboration within class climate; • Incorporate activities to link prior knowledge to new concepts; • Provide more feedback; • Feedback helped students figure out where they were in their learning and what to do next;
High Expectation Teachers • Had students set mastery goals rather than focus on peer competition; • Used more complex questions to challenge students to develop deeper understanding; • Used questions to have students make inferences rather than state what was being said directly; • Provided frequent opportunities for students to develop their own questions, as well as, discussing and synthesizing various information sources; • Used more prompting questions to force students to add depth to responses; • Incorporated positive statements meant to prevent poor behavior choices rather than reactive statements; • Avoided negative statements towards students when discipline issues arouse; • Provided opportunities for all students to work together in order to develop a community sense within the classroom; • Supported students who began to struggle rather than provide answers to allow them to opt out of learning.
Low Expectation Teachers Tend to… • Use ability groups that lead low ability students to feel labeled; • Use more direction within their instruction; • Provide learning tasks with steps (linear fashion); • Have progress move as a group rather than individually; • Provide answers to low-achieving students when they did not provide the correct answers immediately; • Fail to use scaffolding opportunities when opportunities were available; • Use more procedural statements than instructional statements to continuously remind their students of rules.
Expectation Intervention Teacher Expectation Project Study working on identifying whether high teacher expectations can be taught to teachers and what difference it makes on the academic performance and psychosocial attributes of students. The study used intervention and control groups in year one. During year two, the intervention group taught the control group what they had learned about high expectation teaching. The first year results are quite promising.
The Results… • Intervention group significantly outgrew their control group counterparts in math. They demonstrated 28% more growth than the control group. • Many of the teachers reported implementation of the high expectation teaching strategies easier in math than reading, and many of them focused on implementation in math before reading. • Students in the intervention group reported being more aware of their teacher’s high expectations than the control group. • Higher levels of self-concept for math than control group students were reported. • Teachers in the intervention group reported higher levels of efficacy as the year progressed.
Ability Grouping • Research supports ability grouping furthers the gap between the highest and lowest achieving students as they are provided different opportunities to learn. • Placing student in ability groups has harmful effects on students’ self-esteem. • Promotes a fixed mindset for students, as students begin to see their intelligence as fixed rather than something they can develop. • Students in low ability classes tend to get low level learning opportunities focusing on recall rather than cognitively demanding work that pushed them to develop critical skills. Students rise to the level of expectation placed on them. • Students in low-ability groups also fail to benefit from the peer modeling that could be provided by higher ability students.
Flexible Grouping • Flexible grouping provides the teachers the ability to have mixed-ability groups that change frequently. • Teachers use flexible groups that change so they allow students to work with all of their peers and the ability of the student does not become the focus of the group they are in. • This also helps develop a strong sense of community in the classroom, where students work to support each other in their learning.
Flexible Grouping Teachers… • Have a variety of reading materials designed to reach the students’ interests; • Do not restrict what a student reads based on reading levels; • Provide students a choice in what they do and who they work with; • Model procedures and expectations for learning activities a student might not be familiar with; • Have students keep track of the work they complete; • Create an environment conducive to accomplishing the reading goals.
Class Climate • Positive student-teacher relationship has a large impact on student success in learning • High expectation teachers center their discussions around learning goals, whereas low expectation teachers tend to focus more on behavioral outcomes. • Classrooms where learning is the top priority and instruction challenges students to make progress lead to less discipline problems from at-risk students. • Promoting collaboration over competition • Welcoming and safe environments lead to students taking “risks with their learning, to be motivated to achieve, to be successful at their level, and to want to continue to learn”
Creating a Positive Classroom Climate • Creating a positive classroom environment through building a classroom community helps all students grow, academically and socially. When students are not part of such an environment, this can lead them to act out, become unmotivated, and not actively engage in their learning. • Brain research has shown that when people are positive, they open their mind to become more creative and think of new ways to solve a problem. When negative emotions occur, the person is less likely to see these creative solutions. Positivity leads to greater learning, as children are more likely to take on challenging cognitive tasks.
Creating a Positive Classroom • Establish ground rules for student collaboration and model them at the start of the year and when they feel a refresher is needed; • Ensure that all students are asked challenging questions that push their thinking rather than just a few higher ability; • Get to know their students by listening to their stories and sharing some of their own; • Change groups frequently so all students get a chance to work with each other to develop a sense of community; • Give each group or person in a group a responsibility; • Get parents involved in the classroom learning;
Creating a Positive Classroom • Call parents when positive things occur in the classroom in order to create a good relationship; • Have students aide in creating the classroom rules so they have some ownership in them; • Ensure students have an ownership in their learning through choice; • Make sure student talk exceeds teacher talk; • Talk about what characteristics make up a good learner to promote a growth mindset; • Use positive language and handle discipline issues in a proactive manner; • Get anonymous feedback from the students on how your teaching is meeting their individual needs.
Mastery Goals • Mastery goals provide student with goals that address where they are and where they are heading. • They increase intrinsic motivation and student self-efficacy. • Lead to increased student learning more than performance learning • The teacher’s most important role in helping students accomplish mastery goals will be providing feedback on the students’ progress toward each mastery goal.
Increasing Student Self-Efficacy • To increase student self-efficacy, the goals should: • Challenge the student- Easy goals lead to boredom, but for students to succeed with challenging goals the teacher must provide formative feedback as they work with these goals. • Provide short-term success- Goals that are short-term (proximal) rather than long-term (distal) tend to increase motivation as students can see progress being made and goals can be achieved quicker. The use of proximal goals can increase motivation and student self-efficacy. • Communicate growth is more important than performance- students working from a growth mindset of intelligence are more likely to develop perseverance while working on challenging goals, whereas students with a fixed mindset “become disheartened easily if they encounter difficulties in learning new concepts or skills”.
Goal Setting: Practical Applications When establishing goals in a classroom, the goals will need valuable assessments tied to them. Students will be expected to create goals that will be measurable and the assessments used in the class should be valid and provide the evidence the students need to determine whether they are making progress (or have accomplished) their goals. The assessment results, when valid, can be used to inform the teacher and student where to focus for student growth to occur. SMART goals and “Personal Best” goals are two types of goals that students can set.
SMART Goals • SMART Goals are … • Specific: Explicit and concise • Measureable: Result needs to be measured in some way • Attainable: Realistic for the student in a reasonable amount of time but the goal should also be challenging • Results-Oriented: Helps to focus the student on the big pictures • Time-Bound: Clear time frame within which the goal must be achieved
“Personal Best” Goals • Specific and challenge the student to progress in • his/her learning • Has an element of competition but students are competing against themselves and not their peers • When creating personal goals, • Students choose an outcome goal which relates to how they will develop their skills or put in greater effort. • Students indicate if the goal will maintain or improve on their previous best, and whether or not they believe they can achieve the goal. • Students outline specific steps and the plan on how they plan to meet the goal. • Students evaluate whether or not the goal has been reached.
Setting and Tracking Goals Portfolios: Students can also use portfolios (or electronic portfolios) to set goals and track their progress towards accomplishing them. Feedback: Students need to know where they are in their learning (feedback) and what to do next (feed forward). Feedback should directly relate to the goal and help the student plan their next step towards achieving the goal. The three main questions in the feedback process are ‘Where am I going?’ (goals), ‘How am I going?’ (self-evaluation) and ‘Where to next?’ (feedback).
Levels of Feedback Task-level feedback: Informs the student how well they understand or are able to do the task given. Process-level feedback: Focuses the student on the overall procedures to accomplish the learning task. Self-regulation feedback: Provides them guidance on how to monitor their learning and self-regulate their actions. Failing to provide effective feedback occurs when the teacher makes generic statements or uses praise, as both instances do not move the student forward in their learning.
To make goal setting effective, the teacher needs to have clearly identified what the students should learn. When teachers make clear learning targets, students can then create goals and a process to accomplish these targets. Some teachers use WALT (We are learning to) as the start of their objectives. Telling the student what they will learn is important for each lesson, but also telling them why they are learning it helps them see the relevance in their learning and leads to higher engagement levels. “Goal setting is a powerful motivator for students, resulting in increased student engagement and more rapid progress through the curriculum.”
Principal Action Steps • Foster collaboration among all teachers. • Adopt the belief that every teacher is responsible for all students’ learning. • Make changes gradually so teachers do not become overwhelmed. • Provide resources to support the changes being worked on. • Start with flexible grouping and save goal setting for later. • Have regular staff meetings where teachers can share successes, brainstorm ideas to overcome problems, and get help when they need it. • Start changes with a small core group of teachers in order to create successful strategies before rolling it out building-wide. • Use classroom observations to provide feedback to teachers in order to improve student learning
Students given challenging and rich opportunities to learn make more progress than when these opportunities are held back from them. Differences among learning opportunities only widens the achievement gap between high and low performing students. “The positive teacher attitudes and equitable teaching strategies of high expectation teachers lead, not only to student academic success, but also to high levels of motivation, engagement, self-efficacy, and incremental notions of intelligence—key beliefs in fostering high levels of learning and academic success among all students.”