Earlier tonight a simple text from a friend reminded me of one of the most important lessons that I learned as a classroom teacher. It’s such an important lesson that I embedded it within all that I did in and out of the classroom.
“Never Lower Your Expectations”
I hold myself to a high standard and I also hold those that are close to me to the same. Yet tonight, I found myself settling for less and thankfully, I’m surrounded by the right people who know me well enough to “shake some sense” back into my head when I need it.
Life is full of highs and lows but the minute that we accept less than deserved, we start receiving even less. At the same token, the moment that we start giving less than we are capable is the moment that our own standards become questionable again and again.
Having high expectations is more than a “teacher journey concerning students”. It is, by far, one of the most important lessons that students can learn for themselves. I had high expectations for myself as a teacher and for my students. At the same token, they had high expectations for me as their teacher and during the course of the year, they learned to have high expectations of themselves.
Having high expectations boils down to taking pride in all that you do and having enough pride in yourself to expect it in return.
In my classroom, when students asked if their work was correct, I always responded with the question…”Does it meet your standards?” By asking this question, I was in essence asking if their work exceeded their own personal expectations. We talked often about establishing their own standards of work. We came up with a few self-evaluative questions…
- Did I respond to the given question?
- Do I still have questions?
- Can I teach it to a friend?
- Is my finished product an accurate representation of my ideas?
- Am I proud enough to share it with the world?
This was not an instantaneous process but one that gradually took form as relationships were built. My students knew that I cared deeply for who they were as growing young adults. No matter what, I NEVER lowered my expectations of them. Eventually, their actions were much of the same.
I used to have a sign in my classroom that read, “Never settle for less than your best.” It was the only signage in my room and we all knew that those were more than just fonts on a pretty page. For us, it was a way of life.
Tonight, I needed that reminder.