The Power Behind High Expectations

While discussing the question of “What can I do to help make math accessible to all students?,” there were many answers that were good. However, the one that stuck out to me the most was having clear, high expectations for each student. Personally, this was my main support throughout high school and even college. There was always someone pushing me to do my best and even aim for a little above that. I was fortunate to have my parents and sister as part of these people, however, I know that not all students are able to have this kind of support. As a teacher and role model, it is important to show your students you care about them and their success, not only in school but in life as a whole. From a previous course, I heard about a man named Daniel Kish.

Since then, I have done further research on this man and his interesting life. I have watched a ted talk, listened to podcasts, and read many articles. Daniel Kish was a man born with ‘retinal cancer.’ Throughout his childhood, Daniel was not given special treatment by his mother, family, teachers, or peers. This was not done out of hostility, but instead on purpose. In doing this, he was forced to learn how to adapt to his surroundings with the abilities he does have. He began to use sound to “see” his surroundings; this is known as echolocation. Kish would make a clicking noise with his tongue and listen for the sound waves to bounce back to him, making him aware of the surrounding space. Had he been given special treatment such as a personal assistant or a wheelchair that wouldn’t allow him to run into anything, Daniel would not have acquired the skills he has today.

This situation can be compared to many common cases we will face as teachers such as students of another race, financial status, or popularity level. No matter the background of the students, they should all be given high expectations that they are able to rise and work towards. I know that if I had not been given such high expectations to strive for, I would have fallen short of my capability. In order to execute this in your classroom, here are some common rules to keep in your mind:

  1. Avoid labeling your students, even if it is just categorizing them in your head.
  2. Learn about their career path goal and discuss it as though they will make it happen. Avoid using “if” statements.
  3. Hold them to expectations and discuss with them what happened if they fall short and how they might fix it next time.

Along with these three things to keep in mind, I think the most important thing for a teacher to do is truly believe that ALL students are capable of learning and succeeding with your highest expectations for them.



Strategies to Setting and Achieving Goals in a Mathematics Classroom

In class, we discussed eight effective math teaching practices. Mine was about using goals to focus teaching practices. In this writing, I’ll discuss what I learned about setting goals and how to use them when teaching. I’ll also discuss another article/blog post I read, “10 Tips for Setting Successful Goals with Students” by Nancy Barile. Overall, I hope to be able to inform readers about how to set goals and use them to their advantage in the classroom.

The article that listed the eight effective math teaching practices discussed some important details teachers should keep in mind when forming goals. One important detail is the concept the students are learning. This may seem obvious, but really it’s important to think about what exactly you want them to achieve in the end so you, as a teacher, can tell them what you hope to achieve by the end of the lesson. It’s important for students to be involved in these goals, so being able to explain what concept they’re supposed to know by the end is important. Another detail to consider is why the students need the knowledge. Students learn better when they know that what they’re learning is important. This ties into the next thing to consider, which is where the lesson is leading. When teaching, it’s important to keep your next lesson in mind so that you give them the information they need to succeed with the next part of their learning. The final detail that was listed was what prior knowledge they will use for the concept. Goals should build on what they know while also building towards future concepts. Those are the four most important takeaways for me from the article, with additional details mixed in. Next, I will discuss the article I read on my own, “10 Tips for Setting Successful Goals with Students.”

The first tip given is “Use verb-noun structure.” This means that goals should be written in a way that includes an action that need to be taken, not just an accomplishment. Examples would be to study three hours a night or complete five math problems per day.

A second tip given was to “Plan strategically and tactically.” To plan strategically is to make long term goals, such as a grade in a semester or the ability to complete an activity a few months in the future. To plan tactically is to make shorter-term goals that relate to the long-term goals. If a long-term goal is to finish the Harry Potter series, thinking tactically might involve setting a goal such as reading two chapters a day.

The third tip given was “Recognize when help is needed.” If a teacher realizes that a student is not on tract to accomplish a goal, help may be needed. It’s okay to not achieve a goal, but we should do all we can to get students to their goals.

The fourth tip was “Stop and reassess.” The time to look at progress towards goals isn’t just at the time that someone’s supposed to have accomplished them. There are multiple times along the way when a teacher and a student should sit down, see where the student is at, and determine whether they’re on pace to accomplish their goal. This largely goes with the previous tip on recognizing when help is needed. We as teachers can’t really provide help towards reaching a goal if we don’t assess where the student is at. There isn’t really a definite rule for this, but progress towards goals should be checked several times, especially with long term goals.

The fifth tip of “10 Tip for Setting Successful Goals with Students” was “Review action plans regularly.” The article advised that students keep their plans for achieving their goals somewhere that they see regularly, even on a daily basis. They might not need to see them that often, but students should be reminded of what they decided they were going to do to achieve their goal so they don’t forget or fall behind.

Tip number six was to create a timeline for accomplishing the goal. There may not always be specific things that can be checked off on the road to completing a goal, especially with short-term goals, but if there is, students can create a timeline so they don’t get behind on finishing steps along the way. A timeline will remind students of what they need to accomplish and help them do these things in a timely fashion.

The seventh tip that was given was to “Identify obstacles to success.” I think this tip has quite a bit to do with us teachers/future teachers getting to know our students. If a student isn’t doing well, there’s probably an underlying reason for it. It could be home life, a bad group of friends, relationship issues, etc.

Tip number eight is to “Include parents and family.” Sometimes the information from school doesn’t always get home to the parents. The quickest way for something to change with my study habits in high school was for my teachers to tell my parents that I was messing around too much or struggling in a class, and after that, my parents would be badgering me every day about whether I had homework. Unfortunately, not all parents take that much interest, but still, even if parents just ask their child every once in a while how they’re progressing toward a goal, it may motivate a student more.

The second to last tip is to “Aim for progress, not perfection.” Progression toward a goal is sometimes slow. As teachers, we need to recognize progress that is made so students feel that they’re doing the right thing by putting effort in. It takes a lot of perseverance to reach a long term goal, so when a student gets recognized for their work that they put in, it makes it easier for them to persevere.

The final tip from the article “10 Tips for Setting Successful Goals with Students” is “Have fun.” Schools don’t have to be as boring as most people view them to be. We can make it so students get to do something fun when they achieve their goal. We could also make goals for fun things just to help students get the idea of setting goals and accomplishing them.

I’ve now discussed what should go into creating solid goals from two different articles. I thought that both articles had great ideas, and I will hopefully use them in my classroom. As Dr. Reins said, everyone seems to think that using goals is obvious, and yet many teachers do not use them. If we can set goals and use them properly, we can really help our students succeed.

10 Tips for Setting Successful Goals with Students