Can I exceed my capabilities? With guidance, support and a clear view of what is being sought, I can aspire to do so. Can I be expected to achieve at my aspirational level? Possibly not, but, on achievement, I have the understanding of the effort needed and what it feels like to achieve, so that I can repeat the process and seek the outcomes. By showing that I have that new capability, it is reasonable to expect that as a non-negotiable. Just like a high-jumper, I have reset the bar of expectation. By setting a slightly higher goal, I can then seek to make further progress, by unpicking what I have to do next.
- That teachers will display professionalism in all their actions. (8)
- That they will have good subject knowledge. (3)
- That they are ordered and organised in planning, resourcing and enacting lessons. (4)
- That they run an ordered classroom that enables children to learn.
- That they have the skills to engage with learners, to determine where they are in learning and that they can adapt to needs within and between lessons. (6&5)
- That they achieve good or better outcomes in learning. (2)
- That they have high expectations. (1)
Consistently model good classteacher behaviour. Model expectations. Show enthusiasm and aspirations for learners. Show learning and all learners are valued. Promote a positive learning environment. High mutual respect. Very good learning outcomes.
- projection, supposition, assumption, calculation, belief, forecast, assurance, likelihood, probability, presumption, conjecture, surmise, presupposition Sales of the car have far exceeded expectations.
- anticipation, hope, possibility, prospect, chance, fear, promise, looking forward, excitement, prediction, outlook, expectancy, apprehension, suspense His nerves tingled with expectation.
- requirement, demand, want, wish, insistence, reliance Sometimes people have unreasonable expectations of the medical profession.
What do you expect?
Consider: – a teacher walks into a classroom with no idea of what will happen in a lesson. No purpose, no plan and no expectation beyond getting to the end. Is it more, or less, likely that the lesson will be a good one?
It is possible to reflect that an overplanned lesson, with exceptionally high expectations, can also miss the mark .
High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. Charles Kettering
Is working with children as learners more likely to be premised on definitions 1 and 2 above, rather than 3, as expectation in learning is always likely to be tinged with aspiration? Control/ behaviour might be premised on definition 3.
Reflecting on the outcomes of observations and the detail of subsequent conversations, I have begun to consider the possibility that the jargon encrusted language of education may actually be barriers to progress. Assessment, differentiation, learning objectives or WALT, success criteria and WILFs all seem to mean different things to different people and, like Marmite, they are either loved or hated. Quite often adherence to the structural aspects of these words ensures that they are part of articulating practice, but in reality they may have limited impact on outcomes. Used well, they can ensure a dynamic approach to learning, if teaching and learning is premised on the teacher understanding and knowledge of the learners for whom they are responsible.
Distilling all these elements produces in my mind one word, expectation, but even then, that may not be sufficient unto the purpose, although expectation does have the benefit of anticipating a dynamic event, so I have been considering an expectation mind-set. Some teachers intuitively have these skills, while others may need to reflect further to embed expectation in every aspect of their toolkit.
“Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed” [Alexander Pope letter to Fortescue]
Expectation mind-set supports the mental rehearsal of a lesson, where a teacher anticipates the points in the lesson where learners could exhibit misunderstanding or simply encounter a block. This allows preparations which ensure that issues are addressed appropriately and in a timely way.
Clarity of expectation is essential, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. Quantitative expectations can determine how much is achieved in a time scale, whereas qualitative will determine the depth of challenge.
It strikes me as reasonable for a teacher to articulate quantitative expectations to alert the learners to time use, eg “During the next twenty minutes, I’d like to see “at least” x achieved”. This can be differentiated to known group need.
Qualitative expectations are likely to be articulated through the activity success criteria (or WILF), simply stating what the teacher is looking for as a quality outcome.
Defining what “good” is helps the articulation of expectation. What is a “good” outcome for a year two child might be considered “average” for a year four child and “poor” for a year six/seven child, and yet, each of the children concerned still needs reasonable expectations of progress, so that they can maintain and possibly enhance their progress through focused effort.
Teachers are now expected to consider anything less than good as needing improvement, so defining what good looks like, with the potential for better than good, would seem to be an essential step to embedding expectation. Know how with show how.
This is where I think there might be confusion in some teacher minds. Take writing as an example. Working with early career teachers, it is clear that they do not have an understanding of the progressive improvements that children can make; what it looks and reads like. This can take a considerable time if they focus on the children’s outcomes on a day to day basis, as the build-up can be slow.
As a comparator, selecting a set of books and seeking to put them in order of quality can develop an understanding of the range of outcomes. Describing the differences and thereby the improvements seen, develops a series of “steps” of progress. By unpicking the steps, it is possible to articulate to learners their personal progress steps and it is the personal understanding that drives the learner effort.
Their capture by the “assessment brigade” and their refining to ever finer descriptions as sub-levels, reduced their impact as guides to progress and became something to evidence. As a result, teachers lost the plot slightly, focusing on the fine levels rather than the big picture.
But, there remains the need for teachers to be able to describe progress in each subject, so that they can have developmental conversations. Otherwise we return to exhortation “Must do better”…
The mixed ability nature of the class will always be an issue to consider. Is it reasonable to have the same expectation across all learners? I know that this is discussed extensively and regularly elsewhere, but, in this context, defining expectation across all abilities is essential in order to avoid teacher-limited or self-limiting effort. Expectation allows incorporation of the broader set of learning related skills or capabilities, including some softer skills such as trust. Capabilities become non-negotiable as they have already been demonstrated in another context.
Having personal expectations also acts as a prompt to in-lesson teacher behaviour. If a learner responds in unexpected ways, this becomes a prompt for engagement and possible reordering or adaptations to the tasking. This aspect of teaching and learning is articulated in teaching standards 6 and 5, which can be seen as “think on your feet and do something”.
Regular visits to schools suggest a wide variety of presentational approaches to the target setting agenda. All will, most should, some could, appears often, providing the base for detailed discussion. It has always struck me that “some could” really states an expectation of a specific group, as does “most should”, but in the first group, this might be limiting, as it is the expectation of the group, rather than the aspiration. If expectation is targeted, this can be reflected on during and after the lesson.
The teacher/expectation mind-set:-
- expects something specific to change as a result of the carefully matched learning opportunities being offered,
- supports her or him in looking at the resulting activities and discerning the nuances of behaviour that suggest ease or difficulty being encountered.
- drives conversations seeking to unpick areas of concern or to understand the fact that they’ve taken five minutes to complete a task you’d planned for twenty-five.
- creates the start point from which adjustments to the expectations are made,
- ensures that the learner(s) make(s) progress and provides food for thought at the end of the lesson about next steps.