Just read this blog post on high expectations:
I think most Educators have high expectations for themselves and for their students, but what I have really struggled with of late is if or whether we should personalize our expectations for our students. Should we "standardize" high expectations and expect all students to follow the same set of expectations, or should we "personalize" the expectations to meet our students at their own individual levels and abilities...?
I absolutely agree that high expectations are critical--it's the first part of my rigor definition (Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is held to high expectations, each student is supported to learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.) When I was working with focus groups of teachers to refine my original, research-based definition, they all agreed on one change--use EACH student, not ALL students. Their comments were--it must be individualized, if we say all students, some get lost, and do we really look at each student, or do we look at the class?
I believe there are standard practices that hold each student to high expectations. For example, crafting lessons so that each student responds during the lesson on a regular basis rather than only one student responding. This involves more pair shares, clickers, whiteboards, etc. But I also know that for each student to truly learn at higher and higher levels, the specifics are customized. But, in the end, do you believe that each student in your class can and will learn at high levels? And, more importantly, do you take the actions necessary to show them that and to help them get there? That's the root of high expectations--and that is for EACH student.