What do you think of when you hear the word expectations? Does it bring to mind a positive or negative connotation? Do you hold yourself to high expectations? Do others hold you to high expectations? I know from some conversations with a good friend during my most stressful times that I hold myself to expectations higher than I would ever consider for others.
I have also had many conversations with colleagues across the nation (both in person and through twitter) about the low expectations some educators have for certain populations of learners. The more I read about cultural proficiency in my current class, the more I realize that expectations are often linked to our knowledge of our own culture and lack of knowledge of the culture of those we serve. I seek to become a more culturally proficient leader in the hopes of opening more hearts of educators in order to better serve ALL learners. Social Justice Leadership (another topic within my current cultural proficiency class) is all about high expectations (in the form of equity and access) for ALL.
Looking at expectations from a different angle, think for a minute about a leader preparing for a classroom observation of a teacher on an improvement/ remediation plan. Does that leader walk into the classroom with expectations for the teaching and learning she will observe? Think about a group of teachers scoring student work products. Does someone say, “Oh, here is John’s paper. I already know this must be a one because he is one of my low kids.” [Side note- this is one of those moments I was thinking of when reflecting on dissonance. I would respond to a comment like this if I were present.]
“We expect to get more of what we already see, and we usually can only see that which we already expect. That is why it is so difficult to move away from a perspective once it’s established.” (p. 29)
– Leading Every Day: 124 Actions for Effective Leadership by Joyce Kaser, Susan Mundry, Katherine E. Stiles, and Susan Loucks-Horsley
Thinking about the quote above, what expectations do you bring to your work everyday? Are your expectations helping or hindering you from making progress as a leader? The more I reflect on my own expectations, the more I want to work on:
- holding myself to reasonable expectations.
- putting aside my expectations when they give me negative pre-conceived notions about a situation.
- supporting my work and the work of those with whom I work to ensure that our decisions are based on holding our students and teachers to high expectations.
- How do your expectations support your work?
- Do you have any expectations that do not support your work?
- Does your system/ organization have high expectations for the students and staff?
Abecedary of Reflection: