How do your expectations influence learning?

Can other people’s expectations alter what you can do physically?

This question is the essence of a recent This American Life podcast, entitled Batman, which explores experiences of blind people and investigates the impact of other people’s expectations on what blind people can do. It’s fascinating!

As educators, starting a new school year here in Australia, this is a question worth pondering:

Can your expectations alter what your students can do?

In ‘handover meetings’, the previous year’s teachers share information about the students whom they ‘pass on’ to you, including their own opinions and bias.

Do you allow others’ perceptions to influence your expectations? To what extent do your expectations and, consequently those of the learners themselves, influence the learning?  (Watch: Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset)

When learners repeatedly display particular behaviours, it’s easy to label them and begin to expect those behaviours.

Do you unintentionally respond in ways that reveal your expectations? To what extent do your words and expectations reinforce the behaviours and influence the learning? (Read: Choice Words by Peter Johnston)

Teachers often over plan activities to achieve desired outcomes, with little consideration of the value of student ownership of learning.

Do you play ‘guess what’s in my head’, waiting for the answers you expect? Do you control the learning? To what extent do your plans and expectations limit the learners and the learning? (Follow: Kath Murdoch’s inquiry blog Just Wondering)

So… Something to think about as you start the new school year…

How do your expectations influence learning?

Other posts for the new school year:

10 things to do on the first day of school
10 ways to think about your learning space
10 ways to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning
10 ways to get your students’ respect
10 ways to differentiate learning

2 thoughts on “How do your expectations influence learning?

  1. I totally concur that we, as edcators, may having asked some (or many) questions, which build up the expectations of a “correct” response from the students, however when the students own the learning process, they can be the questioners and not have expectations of their peers, or do they?
    Re the expectaions of abled-sighted people on blind people … a friend of mine was recently involved in working with blind people, each sighted person was coupled with a blind person and having completed weeks of training in Israel, together the pairs completed the climb up Mount Everest to Base One. She reported that during the climb, they had to adjust common words like, “”SEE the larger stone, try to get your right foot on it ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THAT STONE”. They’re already preparing for the next challenge for these brave pairs..
    Re the educator influencing the outcome of the students’ ability/experience in an exercise or even during a chat, right at the beginning of a new adventure, much thought needs to be given to the weight of questions and even WORDS used in the intro (planning) or middle or end of the exercise.
    Great stuff that we are receiving from you Ed.
    Thank you


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