High expectations are a function of our deeply held beliefs about the students we work with. The majority of my career has been in environments with significant levels of poverty. I’ve seen first hand that many adults don’t expect the same thing from every student. Many say that they love students while simultaneously lowering their expectations. It is easy to justify our behavior when students are faced with broken homes, unsafe neighborhoods, and the lack of basic needs.
We must fight against the choice to lower expectations while striving to empathize with the experiences of our students. A simple conversation can help to understand what is behind the disrespect or academic apathy. We must build schools which are safe havens for students and provide support well beyond traditional tutoring and help sessions. We must hire educators with a sense of purpose and passion for students to endure the challenges that they will most certainly face.
I challenge the educators who say they love students yet allow lowered expectations to take root in their classrooms. You simply can’t say you love students unless you expect as much of them as your own child. This student-centered belief system is a core component to building a school culture that will endure and meet the needs of every child. Our aim as leaders should be to sniff out and ultimately drive these expectations out of our schools. Our kids deserve adults who believe in them and are too precious for us to accept otherwise.
Charles W. Gardner serves as a Principal and CEO of RockWater Consulting. RockWater Consulting is an education consulting company focused on defining, assessing, and improving school culture. Visit http://www.rockwaterconsulting.net for more information.