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 The procedure for entering class and getting started immediately on the “bell work” for the day.

p What, when, and how often to update an independent reading log.

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At the beginning of the year, there may be repeated and direct attention to teaching these procedures to students, and the teacher will remind students

Videos: Hallway Conversations, Entering Class



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There should be no secret about what is expected and what it will look like when students are meeting expectations.

of these ongoing procedures, from time to time, until they are established and working well. Eventually, they won’t be talked about at all. They just function, underlying the academic work students are doing.

Standards for business and housekeeping routines pertain to nonacademic work-related procedures such as:

p How attendance and lunch count are done.

p Responsibility and procedures for cleanup in the lab or a work area.

Standards for interpersonal behavior pertain to how students should treat each other, interact with one another, and cooperate with the teacher, for ex- ample:

p Treat every classmate with respect; listen attentively when they speak; ask questions when you don’t agree with someone or understand them; and be patient and quiet if someone needs time to think after you finish speaking.

p When asked to work together, make every effort to work in a way that is helpful to everyone.

Each of these four categories of standards is considered separately because it is possible for a teacher to be very clear about what’s important and to have con- viction that students will be able to achieve the standards set in one category but not necessarily to be as clear in all four. As a result, teachers might find that they get great results, for example, on students following work procedures but inconsistencies or low performance when it comes to their treatment of one another or the quality of work they are producing. This signals an opportunity for teachers to step back and ask anew, “So what is it that I think is important? What is it that I want from my students?”

How We Communicate Standards

How do students come to know what is expected of them? How do teachers ensure that students know and understand what is important? There should be no secret about what is expected and what it will look like when students are meeting expectations. Let’s begin by examining 10 behaviors that are common among teachers who create atmospheres of high expectations and get great re- sults with their students:

1. Direct Communication: The standard of performance is explicitly brought to students’ attention, verbally, in writing, or through a visual model.



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2. Specific Communication: The details of the standard for students’ per- formance are clearly stated or otherwise spelled out. Criteria for success are delineated, and exemplars of student products or performances are shared and carefully examined with students. When the task or assignment is sufficiently complex or multifaceted, rubrics might be presented and ex- plained—or developed with students (see Chapter 21, “Assessment”).

3. Repeated Communication: The standard is repeated often to make sure students absorb it.

4. Positive Expectancy: The standards are explained with an accompanying expression of teacher confidence (sometimes challenge) signaling “You can do this.” Another version of positive expectancy that has a more impera- tive quality is, “Of course, you’ll meet this expectation!” The implication conveyed by tone and body language is, “It’s what’s done!”

5. Modeled: This has two meanings. The first is to show or demonstrate. A teacher may clarify for students what is desired by performing the behav- ior or providing models. The purpose of this form of modeling is clear communication. The second meaning of modeling is to “practice what you preach.” In regular practice and behavior, the teacher is a model of thoroughness, self-evaluation, courtesy, or whatever else is expected of students. Whether it’s standards for procedures, interpersonal behaviors, work habits, or application of skills, students take powerful messages from observing how faithfully teachers follow their own dicta.

6. Personal Contact: There are frequent occasions of face-to-face interac- tions with students—before, during, and after class, even in the hallway. Perhaps, they’ll be jocular: “Hey, Noah! Before you get locked up in your shoulder pads this afternoon, you’re going to see me with those correc- tions, right?”

7. No Excuses: Teachers hold students accountable, putting them on the spot when work is not turned in, is late, or is inadequately done, and do not let them off the hook by accepting inadequate explanations. Teachers give the work to students to correct or do over, set deadlines, offer help when necessary, or make provisions for students to get what they need to do the work (materials, peer tutoring, reteaching, or something else). “No excuses” means giving consequences without rancor or anger that are in- tended to improve performance when performance is poor.

8. Recognizing Superior Performance or Significant Gains Over Past Performance: When students do well, there is special recognition that



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highlights their accomplishment such as posting especially good papers on a bulletin board, displaying a product in a public place, complimenting in front of the class, or giving a “Greatest Gains” award.

9. Logical Consequences for Poor Performance: Something happens as a result of not doing homework or classwork, or doing shoddy work, being late, sloppy cleanup, or the many other areas of student performance for which teachers have expectations. As a result, students become convinced the teacher means it. Effective consequences are made clear in advance to students, are varied so there is a range of consequences rather than just one rigid one for each expectation, are logical rather than punitive, are delivered with appropriate affect, and teachers make it clear that the stu- dents have made a choice. (These attributes are developed in more detail in Chapter 10, “Discipline.”) For example, a student who chronically fails to do homework becomes a member of the “homework club” that meets two days after school. The student can choose which day to attend but is required to attend for a minimum number of weeks until homework is caught up and starts coming in on a regular basis. A student who does poorly on a test is required to attend two after-school help sessions before taking the test again to earn a better grade and will be granted the higher grade achieved in the retake.

10. Tenacity: Teacher persistence in pursuit of getting students to meet an ex- pectation is convincing testimony that the teacher means it! But how the teacher displays tenacity and with whom can also be powerful messages, either pro or con, to low-confidence underperforming students. We will re- turn to this topic later in this chapter when we tackle how teachers convince discouraged students that “smart is something you can get.”

11. Feedback: Feedback about student performance is a final way students find out what our expectations are. Practicing good feedback is a critical element of successful teaching. It is part and parcel of a complex array of interactive and interdependent practices that successful teachers do. Our colleague, Caroline Tripp, shows in Figure 14.2 that the development of effective feed- back systems is the product of and dependent on strength in three areas: objectives, assessment, and standards of performance.

First, clear objectives must be communicated to the students in advance. No one can give (or use) specific and detailed feedback without a clear im- age of what students are supposed to be aiming for. Second, teachers must have appropriate assessment tasks or devices for observing and measuring student performance. Third, teachers must have precision about the specific



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standards of performance (or criteria for success) to indicate proficiency and ensure that students know and understand these criteria so as to use the feedback given to improve their performance. In order to expend the energy it takes to create good feedback systems and implement them assid- uously with all students, teachers must have expectations that all students have the capacity to succeed.

We need to make feedback a regular and ongoing event for students be- cause it keeps them focused on what’s important and supports them in investing their effort in incremental improvement and achievement. The effort we invest in providing specific, detailed, timely, and personal feed- back to our students signals that we think the work is important, that they can do it, and that we are there to support them in investing their effort effectively. For feedback to have maximum effect, students have to be ex- pected to use it to improve their work and, in many cases, taught how to do so. This is where student self-assessment and goal setting become part of the package. (See pages 350-355 for more on feedback.)

Figure 14.2 Areas of Effective Feedback





FEEDBACK on Student


We need to make feedback a regular and ongoing event.



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