Another Five Ways We Communicate Low Expectations To Students
May 24, 2011 Teaching 3672 Views
So many of our classroom management strategies are used without thinking. We don't always reflect on where they originated. And what is worse, we don't monitor their effectiveness. Here are five more mistakes we often make with our low achieving students.
- Praising low achievers less often for success.
- Failing to give feedback following the public responses of low achievers.
- Seating low achievers farther away from the teacher.
- Giving high achievers but not low achievers the benefit of the doubt in grading tests or assignments.
- Limiting low achievers to an impoverished curriculum.
Do you find yourself praising low achievers less often for the successes that they do have in the classroom. Quite often we have a standard reply to each answer we receive. Perhaps we say "Good", or "Yes" as a quick way of responding to an answer. Are there some students who receive a "Good answer Billy!" response from you? Students do notice who receives these responses and who doesn't. By personalizing your response you are creating much more value for the recipient. Be sure to spread it around.
The second point is similar to the first but goes a little further. There are times when you want to elicit more information from a student to support their answer. You know that the high achievers can do it; do you give the low achievers an opportunity as well? They also need to learn to support their answers with reasons and this skill must be taught and practised often. "That's an interesting idea; can you give us more information about it?" "I like the way you put your thoughts together like that, it made your answer very clear." Don't be a teacher of few words.
An effective classroom management strategy involves the physical layout of your room. Look at your seating plan. Is there any form of discrimination or favoritism in how you place your students? It's true that there are some students who need to be in certain spots but don't have some students so far from you that they don't feel a part of the class. Most students will respond to our expectations for them. If we value their presence and input in class they will attempt to meet and exceed these expectations.
The fourth point is very subtle. One could probably make a statistical argument that a high achiever is more likely than a low achiever to have more information implied in an answer. But statistically that will not always be the case. Is this instance one of the exceptions? It is better to err on the side of caution and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, after all test anxiety impacts the performance of most individuals.
The final issue to be aware of is how the curriculum impacts students. If a student is given reading material well below the grade level of his peers he and everyone else will know it. There is age appropriate material that can be used with struggling students. In math have him work with students who can help him. If he really labors to complete the homework discretely reduce the number of questions he is to answer. In other subject areas use the same sensitivity.
It is difficult enough to be a low achieving student without having the classroom environment against you as well. The most effective classroom management strategy is to make sure that everyone knows they belong and are valued in the class.