Thursday, October 2, 2014

Who Expects You To Be Somebody?

“Nobody Rises to Low Expectations”

As we close the end of the first six weeks of school, it is amazing to think that the school year is one-sixth of the way complete.  It may feel like it just started, but in truth we have learned a lot about ourselves and our students already.  Of course our students have learned a lot about us too!  They know what we will and will not accept, both in behaviors and with assignments (even in kindergarten!).  They have a pretty good idea of who the teachers’ pets are and where the popular kids sit at lunch. And above all, they have already decided if their teachers care about them or not.  I am not questioning if teachers care about their students.  I can honestly say I have never met a teacher that didn’t, but I do believe there are students that come to school every day that aren’t sure if their teacher cares about them and their success.  The point is, it doesn’t matter how you feel about someone, if THEY don’t know how you feel, they are left to their own perceptions and some of our students may not perceive the best.

A recent “Student Voice” survey of over 65,000 students conducted by the Quaglia Institute ( showed that only 34%  of students believed that their teachers knew “their hopes, dreams, and aspirations”!  What a discouraging number!!  A lot of research has also been conducted about the value of high expectations as a vital tool for success. They have shown it will push us to do things we were not sure we were capable.  How and Why do we do this? Often we do it because someone else is counting on us. The question I have posed to kids as I have traveled to schools the last couple of weeks is one I read about in a story of highly successful people that came from less than stellar backgrounds.  It is a simple question:  Who Expects You to Be Somebody? 

As you can imagine, many students pick their family members, but often it is one of their teachers that students tell me about as the person that expects the most out of them.  I had one student tell me that they try to do their best because they don’t want to let their teacher down.  That is a huge impact. Our Superintendent recently showed the District Leadership team a short video clip of a brain surgeon who credits his middle school science teacher with “inspiring” him to be a doctor just by telling him he had “the hands for it”.  It was one comment to one child, but it had an enormous impact on him and his future.  Watch the video here:

So as we near the end of the first six weeks, stop and reflect about the students you see every day.  Some of them are already behind the class academically. Some are struggling to fit in and belong. Some you have identified which ones need extra attention. No matter what you think you know about your students already, ask yourself: Who expects them to be somebody?  Is it you?  Do they know it?

“Teachers effect eternity, no one can tell where their influence stops.”

1 comment:

  1. I feel truly blessed and consider it an honor to be in a position where I can model high expectations for students and staff. While addressing discipline issues and concerns may not be the most glamorous role on the campus, I have an obligation to help struggling students see themselves as SOMEBODY...more importantly as a SUCCESSFUL SOMEBODY. In holding conversations with students about their behavior choices, I have the chance to help students (and often times adults) identify the root cause of behaviors. For example, just this morning I saw a student who was deemed to be defiant, disrespectful, and full of an attitude. While his tough exterior and remarks to questions asked was enough to send any adult over the edge, it turned out his parents had recently split. Behind this tough exterior was a broken boy who's world had just been turned upside down. HIs behavior was his means of controlling his devastating situation. By the end of our conversation, I felt as though he was able to release some of his pain while allowing us as adults to help him problem solve. I could have easily dismissed him and merely dished out a consequence as a result of his actions. However, I believe that each discipline incident provides us with an opportunity to not only hold students to high expectations but to utilize these cases as teachable moments where we can gracefully show students they are IMPORTANT SOMEBODYs. I truly hope that someday students will be able to look back and say I was a SOMEBODY who positively impacted a student in a meaningful way!