This past week I was submitting a poorly written essay for a possible $2,500 prize, money that would be spent on classroom supplies. As I was writing the essay I started to learn something. I am not the only one who has expectations for my kids.
Any educator knows that high expectations are crucial for success. As soon as a student learns that you are willing to settle for less than their best effort, they'll quickly meet that standard.
While I was writing about my students and the general condition of my school and the neighborhood my school resides in, I realized that those conditions - often less than ideal - demonstrate expectations for the students as well. The trash on the streets and the graffiti-covered walls that the students pass each day tells them what their community expects of them. The overall lack of equipment - whether PE/recess or curriculum or technology - demonstrates the expectations of their state and of their nation.
These are factors, not excuses.
This year I have started to accumulate more technology, much more than anyone else in the building. I have a lcd projector, four student computers, and now a 4-year old, brand new interwrite pad. It's wonderful. I have seen engagement increase. I have a new sense of motivation in creating lessons.
I have heard from many people in my district that elementary students can't utilize or be responsible with technology. It's silly. But now that I am seeing my students learning with this technology I am learning that these new things do more than just increase engagement. They tell the students that they are expected to be responsible. These new technologies tell the students that someone or something big (i.e. the school, the district, or more) believes they can and will be responsible.
Resources, facilities, equipment, and even communities hold expectations for my students. Unfortunately, most of the time we have to work to show these 10-year old kids that they can beat the expectations placed on them. So often we just stop there. What else could I do, anyway?
What is my action as a result of this conviction? A continued passionate pursuit for resources and upgraded facilities? Yes. A continued, daily effort to convince the students that I am trustworthy and that they can overcome the circumstances of their little worlds? Yes.
What more could I do? That is the question that I pray everyday...