Effective Teachers Know the Impact of Expectations

student team

 The common traits that were found by Teach America and other research projects that ALL GREAT teachers shared may surprise you!

In fact, advanced degrees and experience had little to do with a teacher’s effectiveness.

Dr. Robert Rosenthal of Harvard University conducted dozens of controlled experiments over the years to test the power of the expectations of teachers on student performance.

In his landmark book, Pygmalion in the Classroom, he tells of case after case where teachers were informed that a student (or sometimes a whole class), was extremely bright and was predicted to make a quantum leap in academic performance in the coming year.

Even though the students were chosen from the school population at large, as long as the teacher believed that the student or students were exceptional, and the teacher expected the student to do well, the students would perform vastly better than other students in the same or similar classes, and vastly better than could have been predicted by previous grades or behavior.

Below are five of the traits that the most effective teachers shared, according to the Teach America research.  I have reorganized them to create a memorable acronym that you can use to help inspire and encourage those on your staff-

T          –           Totally committed

E         –           Expectations high and clear

A         –           Adapt their plan and activities

C         –           Check progress consistently

H         –           Hold themselves accountable for class success


As a teacher myself, I was inspired to live up to the challenge of a very bright student. 

He was lazy… and disruptive… and annoying… and brilliant! 

I loved having him in my room for those 55 minutes each weekday, and began to plan my class activities around ways to keep him from putting his head down.  If I could get Kyle to be involved and engaged, I had a great day…

At the end of that year, Kyle moved on and has since become quite successful…  but I realized that every year since then, I have another Kyle – in every class – and it is exciting to go into the classroom each weekday and roll up my sleeves and be creative and prepared enough to do it for all of them.

By being totally committed to providing what your people need, by setting high and clear expectations, by adapting your plan to accommodate their needs as you go, by checking progress on a regular basis, and by holding yourself responsible for your people’s performance, YOU can become the GREAT teacher.

Teaching is about lighting a torch – and that isn’t just for your students, either.  You can inspire your peers as well by sharing information and creating a culture of collaboration with team building for teachers.

And don’t fool yourself – regardless of vocation, we are all teachers. 

The classroom dynamics and locations may change, but your success is based upon your ability and willingness to TEACH more effectively!

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