High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning


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Correcting Students in a Constructive Way

Often, teachers who keep track discover that they call on a small number of students frequently and allow few, if any, chances for students for whom they have low expectations to answer. When you fail to recognize particular students, you can communicate a low level of confidence in their abilities. This message is compounded when these students see others being called on regularly. Think about what it would communicate to you if your boss always asked other teachers to participate in committee work or special projects instead of you. And how would you feel if the boss continually came to you for help on curriculum projects or input on difficult students?

Just as we do, students develop feelings of self-confidence in their abilities when their teacher goes to them for the right answer. In addition, calling on all the students in your class—rather than a select few—will help keep students on task and decrease the number of behavior problems. It is important that you monitor yourself to be certain that you are providing all of your students with response opportunities.

Putting a check by the name of each student you call on during class discussions is an excellent way to quickly determine whether you are being equitable. Also, you should monitor yourself to make certain you are not calling exclusively on your high-achieving students but also on students who have a pattern of not performing well.

Keeping a simple checklist on a clipboard during classroom discussions is a great strategy you can easily implement. Figure 1.


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In this example, you can see that Donna and Sam are getting the majority of the response opportunities. This could be because the teacher has confidence in these students, knows that calling on them will keep the discussion moving, and wants the other students to hear the correct answers. However, it also could lead the other students to think that the teacher doesn't have confidence in them and doesn't expect them to participate, and it increases the likelihood that they will get off task.

If you were the teacher, you would want to be sure that before the end of the discussion you called on all your students so as to make the discussion more equitable. Donna Dawson:. Sam Smith:. Try to make an effort to call on students who have typically been off task or who have been achieving at a low level, allowing them to respond and participate in class, and watch what happens. Over time, you will notice that these students will remain on task more often and improve academically!

This change does not occur immediately, but it definitely does occur and is extremely gratifying to see. Increasing latency Kerman et al. Latency is the amount of time that elapses between the moment you give a student a response opportunity and the moment you terminate the response opportunity. Kerman and colleagues explain that the amount of time we give to students to answer questions is directly related to the level of expectation we have for them. We give more time to students when we have confidence in their ability to answer a question.

Conversely, we give less time to students in whom we have little confidence. When you quickly give up on a student who is struggling with a response, it is clear to everyone in the classroom that you don't expect him or her to come up with the right answer. What you will find when you make a conscious effort to extend the length of latency you allow for low-achieving students is that these students will begin to pay more attention, become more actively involved in discussions, and minimize their behavior issues.

One thing you can do is ask a teaching peer to observe your instruction and chart the length of the latency periods you are giving each student from the time you ask the question until you move on to another student. It is especially interesting to find out which students get longer latency periods from you. Latency Chart in Seconds Paul Brown: 1, 3. In analyzing the chart, it is easy to see that Donna and Mary are consistently given more latency and, therefore, more chances to give a correct response than are the other students. If this were your classroom, you could try to make sure that in future discussions and question-and-answer periods you give longer latency periods to other students as well before moving on.

You also communicate positive expectations by giving hints and clues to your students. It is important that we communicate to all our students that we have high expectations for their success, and one way to do this is by giving more hints and clues to all students, especially the low-performing students. Think about a reading lesson in which a student struggles to sound out a word. There are things to be cautious about when using this technique.

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If you provide too many hints and clues, you may actually give the student the answer. Also, after a number of hints, it may be that the only student who doesn't know the answer is the one being called on, which ends up being an embarrassing experience. The important point, however, is to use hints and clues with all students to communicate that you have high expectations for the entire class.

This helps build positive teacher-student relations. Another way to communicate positive expectations to students is by directly telling them they have the ability to do well. When you tell your students you have confidence that they can handle a difficult assignment or improve their behavior, you impart a very powerful message.

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Students often will work hard and behave appropriately to prove that your confidence in them is justified. Every child needs to have at least one significant adult in his or her life who believes that he or she can do well. Ideally, children would hear this from their parents, but the sad truth is that is not always the case.

Teachers have the unique opportunity and privilege to communicate daily to a number of students that they believe in them. What a gift to be able to be that significant adult in even one student's life. You've been working very hard on remembering to write down your thinking as you solve math problems, and I know you can transfer that skill to this test.

I'll check back with you later. Once again, this is a positive relations strategy as well as an instructional strategy. You can also let students know that you have positive expectations for them by referring to past successes Kerman et al. When you tell a student that you know he will behave appropriately at recess because he was successful yesterday, you help build confidence in the student and increase his chance for success.

High-Expectation Curricula Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning

And after a student demonstrates good behavior or academic achievement in a specific situation, telling her you knew she would be successful Kerman et al. Students need to know that their teachers respect them and have confidence in them. Using these different strategies to consistently communicate your positive expectations will work wonders. We challenge you to begin using one or two of these strategies today to build high expectations and positive teacher-student relations.

Correcting and disciplining students for inappropriate behaviors is a necessary and important part of every teacher's job. However, it doesn't have to be a negative part of your job.


  1. Chapter 1. Developing Positive Teacher-Student Relations.
  2. Communicating Positive Expectations.
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  5. In fact, you can actually build positive relationships when you correct students. If you don't believe this, think for just a minute about students you have had in the past who came back to school to visit you. Often it is the students who were the most challenging and with whom you had to spend the most time who continue to visit you over the years.

    This is due to the positive relationships you developed with them. The goal in correcting students should be to have them reflect on what they did, be sorry that they disappointed you, and make a better choice in the future. I'm going to be sure I don't get caught next time. If you allow students to keep their dignity, you increase the chance that they will reflect on their behavior and choose their behaviors more wisely in the future.

    The correction process will be counterproductive if students are corrected in a manner that communicates bitterness, sarcasm, low expectations, or disgust. The goal is to provide a quick, fair, and meaningful consequence while at the same time communicating that you care for and respect the student.

    Steps to Use When Correcting Students Review what happened Identify and accept the student's feelings Review alternative actions Explain the building policy as it applies to the situation Let the student know that all students are treated the same Invoke an immediate and meaningful consequence Let the student know you are disappointed that you have to invoke a consequence to his or her action Communicate an expectation that the student will do better in the future.

    Imagine that Johnny hit Sam because Sam called his mother a name. This is how you could put these disciplinary steps in place: Review what happened. Discuss the incident with Johnny. Begin with fact finding to be sure that you are appropriately correcting the student. The worst way to affect teacher-student relationships is to unfairly discipline a student.

    Identify and accept the student's feelings. Tell Johnny that you understand why it upset him to hear somebody call his mother a name and that you, too, would be upset if someone maligned your mother. It's important to understand that this step communicates that you respect and understand his feelings but that you are not accepting his actions. Review alternative actions. Go over with Johnny the different actions he could have taken, such as ignoring the remark or reporting it to a teacher. Explain the building policy as it applies to the situation.

    Remind Johnny of the building policy of not fighting and that the rule is if anyone hits another student, he or she will be sent to the office and possibly be suspended from school. Let the student know that all students are treated the same. Make sure that Johnny understands that all students must adhere to the policy and that any student who disregards the rule will suffer the consequences.

    Invoke an immediate and meaningful consequence. Communicate with the office about what happened and send Johnny to the office. Let the student know you are disappointed that you have to invoke a consequence to his or her action. Tell Johnny that you are disappointed that his actions have led to this situation. Communicate an expectation that the student will do better in the future. Remind Johnny that, although you do not approve of his actions and do not like to send him or any student to the office, you like him and know that he will make a better choice next time.

    Also tell him that you are there to support him and work through these issues with him in the future. In addition to your following these steps when correcting a student, it is important to keep some key philosophical precepts in mind. First of all, remember to correct the student in a private location. Although it is not always possible to remove a student from the classroom, do your best to prevent visual access by other students as you discipline. Public correction can foster feelings of anger, embarrassment, and bitterness; it can also become a sideshow for the other students.


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    Finally, remember to stay calm and avoid frustration. The worst thing you can do is to invoke a consequence when you are angry or upset, as this can lead to regrettable actions on your part. It is also important to follow certain steps after disciplining a student. These steps are shown in Figure 1. Steps to Follow After Disciplining a Student Touch base with the student Acknowledge postdisciplinary successes Don't give up too quickly.

    Let's go back to the example of Johnny, in which he earned an office referral because he hit Sam. Here are some actions you could take: Touch base with the student. Follow up with Johnny after the consequence, checking to see how he's doing and simply making contact with him.

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    Acknowledge postdisciplinary successes. The next time Johnny has difficulty with a student and handles the situation more appropriately, such as by verbalizing his displeasure rather than using his fists, be sure to acknowledge his behavior and praise him for making the right choice. Don't give up too quickly. Finally, don't forget that some students respond negatively to positive attention. In such cases, it may appear that the student doesn't want the positive attention.

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    What may actually be happening is a gradual change in the student's self-concept. When students are used to getting into trouble and having negative attention, it takes a while to break this cycle. Often it is just a matter of time before the student starts to show the positive effects of this attention, so don't give up!

    Tip Box. Remember: Students will recall how you made them feel long after they have forgotten the consequence they earned as a result of their actions. If applied effectively, pride can be an extremely powerful force in developing positive teacher-student relationships Kerman et al. In many classrooms, students are proud of the fact that they are behaving and achieving at a high level. In other classrooms, a different type of pride develops when students see themselves as being the worst they can be.

    The pride students develop helps shape identities that in turn drive their behaviors. When you recognize student successes, there is a decreased likelihood of fostering negative pride and an increased likelihood of developing positive pride. As a classroom teacher, your goal should be to help students take pride in their accomplishments and positive behaviors rather than in their negative behaviors. Strategies to Develop Positive Classroom Pride Display student work Positively reinforce students verbally Show off the class's achievements Speak to the accomplishments of all your students Be sincere in your pride in your students Look for opportunities for students to be proud in all areas Develop parental pride in student accomplishments Develop pride in improvement in addition to pride in excellence.

    Displaying student work is a good way to let students know that you value the work they do and that you take pride in their work products. The displayed work does not have to be perfect and should show a significant cross section of the students you have in your class.

    Putting the work of students who have a history of low achievement up on a bulletin board often helps to build their self-esteem and pride and encourages them to do better work in the future. Exhibiting the work throughout the building in hallways, in the office, and in other public areas can do a great deal to develop positive levels of student pride.

    The impact becomes even more powerful when you let the class know that you want others to see the great work they are doing. I am so proud of all of you that I wanted the whole school to see your exemplary work. That's why I put all the projects on display in the library. Positively reinforce students verbally on a regular basis. Tell your students when you are pleased by their behavior. Let them know that you're not surprised when they grasp a difficult concept.

    This is a powerful way of developing positive pride. Publicly asking other staff members to enter the classroom so that they can see a specific accomplishment of your class, such as the way they respond to your instructions, is an example of showing off the class's achievements. However, be careful to speak to the accomplishments of all the students when you use this strategy rather than to the accomplishments of just the top students, or the strategy could backfire on you. There are numerous opportunities to develop pride in all areas , such as by publicly recognizing high test scores, acts of kindness, positive citizenship, and athletic accomplishments.

    You can also extend the pride taken in the class by developing parental pride in student accomplishments. Provide opportunities for parents to review student work in newsletters, during back-to-school events, and at parent conferences. Let parents know about high attendance rates, high test scores, and the percentage of homework or assignments completed.

    In this way, you are enlisting parents to be your partners in fostering this powerful positive relationship tool. Remember that pride does not always have to involve only excellence. Pride in improvement is an important type of pride to nurture. Test scores and daily assignments that go from a D to a C and homework that starts coming in on time are examples of great opportunities for you to recognize student success and build pride.

    These results should be interpreted with caution for several reasons: They are based on a sample of only eight schools, the positive impacts took four to five years to emerge, and it is not known whether the impacts will persist in later grades. Nevertheless, these findings show that the Accelerated Schools approach improved academic achievement in a group of mostly at-risk students. Get the latest info on MDRC publications, projects, and other news. We send email updates a couple of times each month. Skip to main content.

    Sign up for our twice-monthly email newsletter. There were no positive impacts in the first two years, a slight decline in the third year — as schools began to modify their curriculum and instruction — and a gradual increase in the fourth and fifth years. The average third-grade reading and math scores in the fifth year exceeded the predicted levels by a statistically significant amount.

    These impacts were not uniform across all students or all schools. The largest impacts were observed among students who would have scored in the middle of their school's test score distribution without the reform and among the schools that had the lowest test scores before launching the reform.

    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning
    High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning

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