Teacher expectations are conclusions or predictions that teachers make about based on past behavior or interaction with the students. These inferences involves the behavior of students in the classroom. The expectations generally include the beliefs that the teacher holds about how changeable or rigid the ability of the student is, the appropriateness of learning material for a certain class and how appropriate it is to teach the class as a group or individually. The expectations for different individual learners are often formed based on the student’s past information such as past grades, test data and comments from other teachers who have taught the student.
Contact with the student also contributes to the formation of these expectations with such things as previous contact with the family, work habits of the student, the student’s motivation, contribution and concentration in class contributing greatly to the teacher’s expectations. The expectations of the teacher is a normal phenomenon and is a critical issue because the accuracy and flexibility of the teacher holding them influences teacher-student interaction and the entire learning process.
Most expectations have a tendency of being self-sustaining affecting perception. Thus they influence the perception of the teacher and because of them the teacher may be alert for those things that they expect but pay less attention to the things that they do not expect. Further because of a teacher’s expectations the teacher may interpret things that they see so that they can be in line with their expectations. This is dangerous especially where a teacher’s expectations are inaccurate and continue to persist even where there is disagreement between the expectations and facts.
It is important that a teacher’s expectations be accurate and flexible. Accurate expectations mean that a teacher can correctly motivate the student to achievement of academic goals and other extracurricular goals. A teacher’s expectations also provide motivation for the learner.
Most learners tend to live up or down to their teacher’s expectations. With this realization it is also important that teacher’s have flexible expectations so that when a learner demonstrates change or event the desire to change the teacher can be there to facilitate this change for the better and have a new set of expectations. In various experiments that test the effect of teacher expectations,teachers were convinced that some students would show great improvement in their academic work that year.
The teachers held the belief that the predictions were on the basis of tests that had been given to the students. In reality the children had been picked randomly and not on the basis of test results. However the chosen group of students were the most improved. This points to the value and importance of teacher expectations. This has been explained by the hypothesis that sometimes in a quiet, subtle and often unintended way, the predictor (teacher) may communicate their expectations and thus influencing the behavior of the learner.
To overcome the effect of low expectations of students, teachers first need to evaluate their expectations of their teachers. Further, the teacher also needs to ensure that these expectations are actually in line with the facts and outcome of the students. To improve the expectations the teacher may be involved in giving feedback to the students.
Learners who get feedback are likely to have their motivation increased. An improvement in relations between teachers and students is likely to change the expectations of the teacher. This change in relations can be brought about by the teacher assuming the role of a coach and making learning as interactive as possible. This will lead to increased learner involvement and participation making it possible for the teacher to learn more about the learner, their culture and how they best they learn,their weaknesses and strengths. With such information the teacher’s expectations are bound to change and be closer to the real situation. This puts the teacher in a better position to motivate the student and the teacher also remains motivated and interested in learning new things even those outside his area of expertise.
To further improve on management of students viewed as low functioning teachers could provide more opportunities for the learners to learn new things, give them more opportunities to answer stimulating questions. For these students being able to answer these questions will increase their motivation and self-belief. The teacher could also give the student more time to answer the question and praise the student often when they are successful at completing a task or answering a question as well as call on the student more often to answer questions.
The teacher should also be involved in programs where they can be sensitized on issues to do with expectations of teachers so that teachers can be trained on detecting when they have different expectations of different students and how to manage such situations. A practical application would be to identify teachers with low expectations of students, arrange for them to meet with a teacher mentor where emphasis will be placed on a shared vision of schooling and also make arrangements for a model lesson and visitations between classes.