- They have high expectations for their students. ”They assume that their students are able to meet high standards and belive their job is to help their students get there.” This goes beyond simply establishing expectations — it means providing the necessary supports for students to be successful.
- They use data to focus on individual students, not just groups of students. Learning is personalized. For schools that beat the odds, it is not enough to have a general sense of how the school is performing, it is necessary to know how every student is progressing.
- They make decisions on what is good for kids, not what is good for adults. The “beat the odds” schools consistently based decision-making on the best interest of students. This sounds like common sense, but it’s not as easy as it appears. For every action and activity we must ask ourselves: (1) what is my purpose, (2) is this a good use of time/resources, (3) is this in the best interest of my students?
- They establish an atmosphere of respect. ”Students are treated with respect, teachers are treated with respect, and parents are treated with respect.”
- They like kids. I would hope that every educator likes kids (if you don’t, please find another profession). However, we have all had those kids who make empathy a challenge. Chenoweth makes a great observation about how these students are perceived at schools that are beating the odds, “the struggles that students have outside school only increase the regard teachers and principals have for what they are able to achieve in school.”
Notice how often they are talking about individual students, not the whole group. And that is a major shift for many of us. The model we may have seen most often is whole-group instruction/lecture with a bit of discussion thrown in--usually in the form of the teacher asking a question and one or two students responding. That may work for us in terms of ease and convenience, but the reality is that in classes with high expectations, students are continually participating throughout the lesson--not just by "paying attention". What is the level of interaction/participation for your class today?