High Expectations of Our Students Yields Results
For thirty-eight years, I was accused of being a tough teacher.
Whenever this occurred, I responded to the comment with, “Really? I only want the best for you because you can do your best with a little help from me.”
I’ve been thinking about this statement quite a lot in the last few days.
There is a person who is trying to copy my products and of course that really burns my cookies.
But truly, they aren’t a threat. In fact, in many ways what they have done is only helping me. Why?
Because the price of their lesson and number of pages is so minuscule it makes mine lessons look a. HUGE (which they are) and b. to be better quality in comparison hence I can charge more. (Mine is 90% higher than theirs.)
I. just. thought. my. price. was. enough. (On second thought, I am re-considering.)
So back to the high expectations of our students.
When I was a child, I took piano for ten years. (You’d never know it now, however. I’m really rusty.)
During those ten years, I had four different teachers.
My first teacher was perfect for me–a good teacher, kind, easy-going and taught me the basics. She was a friend of my mother’s. She quit teaching after four years. My next teacher was a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music–yaya! She was young, kinda sassy and moved fast. She really pushed me. She moved after two years. (Are you seeing a pattern here? My third teacher was really marvelous but equally intense. (I remember she didn’t wear a bra and I was at an impressionable age and thought that was kinda scandalous.) She studied at Julliard. She moved me up by at least three years and then moved away. Need I say more?
My fourth and last teacher was much like my first–sweet, supportive and easy-going. She was enthusiastic, kind and thought I was funny–I ate it up! She studied at Eastman School of Music. I continued with her until all of my school commitments kept me from continuing.
Each piano teacher taught me something about myself. In fact, they came into my life in the perfect order, too.
I have had several other teachers who demanded my best. In high school, my drama teacher was rather strict and expected a lot of me. It is because of him that I majored in theater in college. However, in college my acting teacher was tough and demanding. She was a doozy, let me tell you! Her name was Jean Muir. I remember she told me if I really wanted to be a serious actress, I would need to lose ten more pounds. (Really?)
Learn about her here: How Fulfilling is Life Without Theatre?
Research on the Subject of Rigor
When I was researching this topic and ran on a post from educationdive.com, “Tough Teachers get Better Results from Students” :
This newest study shows students whose teachers had the highest grading standards scored 16.9% of a standard deviation over those with low-expectation teachers. Tougher grading practices also translated into higher achievement in the subsequent Geometry and Algebra II courses. In Geometry, students whose teachers had high grading standards in Algebra I scored 7.3% of the standard deviation. In Algebra II, that group scored 8.6% of SD.
The results were consistent across all student subgroups including white, black and Hispanic students. They were also consistent across all types of schools, with the greatest impact seen in middle schools and among high-poverty schools.
Teachers with more experience also tend to have higher grading expectations, and their students achieve at higher levels. The report found students with teachers who had four or fewer years of experience had expectations significantly lower than average, but expectations ticked up the longer teachers stayed in the profession. Those with more than 21 years of experience had the highest expectations.
So about the seller, I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
The seller is young and probably has about five years of teaching under her belt. That’s a dead give away to me. I think a teacher has to experience many teaching scenarios before they can make a true assessment of a student’s work. I’m sure I graded easier when I began teaching. I know I didn’t feel like I knew anything so I played it safe.
High Expectations of Our Students Yields Results
I have high expectations of myself at all times. I’m a retired teacher, but I work on drama education products as though I was going to teach them tomorrow. An average day of work is about eight hours Monday through Friday with some working on the weekend.
My husband is a perfectionist and it only makes sense I was drawn to him when I met him. I could see his quest for excellence in the way he conducted an orchestra (that’s how I met him.) Again, high expectations.
We have a tendency to teach to the middle in our schools. There is plenty of help for our students with learning challenges, but a general education teacher doesn’t teach to the gifted. However, I find all students benefit from my high expectations. I have never known a student with learning challenges who didn’t appreciate being challenged.
My daughter told me once, “When you first tell us you expect a lot from us, it’s a little scary because we don’t know if you can live up to your expectations. Then the student surprises himself by doing his best. The student falls in love with you, Mom, because you helped them see they can be more than they thought they were. It’s awesome!”
I could never put it into any other words as well as my daughter. I’m touched.
To ask a lot of one’s students takes a certain level of commitment and energy. If I hadn’t cared about students, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to help them. In essence, I love them and believed in them before they believed in themselves.
I think the playwright Michael Goldenberg says it best.
“In my own life, when I was most inspired by a teacher,
it always involved a real dialogue,
a looseness and a real caring and compassion.
It was not without rigor, not without discipline,
not without standards, but all that was done out of love.”
Love. That’s what it is when you get right down to it. It is the love of your students.
Have you ever been challenged to do your best? What was it? I’d love to hear about it.
Contact me at email@example.com or DeborahBaldwin.net
Here’s an example of one of my lessons which challenges students: Play writing Lesson: Dialogue
If you are seeking drama education lessons which will challenge your students, check out these posts:
Are you looking for some free resources? Here is a group of teacher/authors offering FREE resources: Free Teaching Resources Blog Hop