This teaching idea first appeared in Educator's Spotlight Digest, an online publication of the S.O.S. for Information Literacy project.
One important motivational variable that can impact a student's effort on a learning task is their perceived expectancy for success should he/she attempt the task. A student who has low expectations for success may decide to put little, if any, effort on a learning challenge. "Why bother?" they may say, "I know I won't be able to do it right." On the other hand, research supports that a positive expectancy for success generally leads to better performance and success on learning tasks. There are many instructional variables that we, as educators, can consider to help build student confidence and help students build more positive expectancies for success. These include breaking up instruction into bite sized chunks, providing not just positive but "informative" feedback (i.e., "Good work, Karen. Your grade improved on this project because you really put effort into finding the best sources of information you could."), and setting clear expectations of what is expected of students at the beginning of an assignment.
This Storytime with Judy Plavocos video clip, however, focuses on something far more subtle that can influence students' self perceptions (and potential success) and it starts very young. That something is the educator's own perceptions of a child's abilities and behavior. Often, these perceptions are fueled by other educators' relating their prior experiences with and opinions about a child. If these preconceptions influence how an educator interacts with a student (e.g., having lower expectations for the "problem" child), there is little chance the child can move toward a better self-perception leading to increased effort and success. While some insight can be helpful, reading specialist, Judy Plavocos, believes in giving a student a "clean slate" each new year:
"A pre-conceived opinion can paint a wrong picture for many reasons. The child may have been going through a trauma at home the [previous] year and it could be resolved by the following year. Growth and maturation play a huge part in behavior and learning. Some students may developmentally be unable to grasp the work and tasks at hand which causes frustration. Due to frequent moves there may be huge holes in their education as often is seen in math and reading. Teachers can bring their own prejudices into the classroom."
Judy also discusses another important element that contributes to expectations for success. When teaching older students especially, an element of distrust can prevail due to experiences they or their families may have had. It takes time and honesty to build an element of trust, respect and sincerity. She believes consistent affirmation of them as learners and people will build a self respect that will "open new thoughts and possibilities for them and their future. Show your disappointment when they are not putting in an effort and praise them when they rise up to the standard you know they can do." This teaching idea also includes a two-minute clip of Judy telling a story of a boy that, contrary to expectations, "surprised" her, and later she discusses the importance of giving each student a clean slate at the beginning of a year. VIEW THE VIDEO.
Type of Video: Reflections
File Size: Approximately 5 MB
VIDEO ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION
Audio transcript: YES
Closed Captioning: YES