Choosing Expectations

Kids-runningI found a column written by Cynthia Tucker this summer to be thought provoking.  The gist of the column was that kids don’t pick their parents and as research repeatedly demonstrates poverty levels have considerable impact on student outcomes.   “…new barriers have cropped up to limit the futures of children born to poor or working-class parent, whether they are black, white or brown.  A globalized economy and technological breakthroughs have conspired to abolish the good-paying jobs that used to be available to workers with high school diplomas or less.”  The article concludes by saying it is rare that a person’s  “achievement stretches far beyond the foundation he was given in his childhood” and that “the United States has the resources to pour money into giving less-affluent children a rich educational foundation –from early childhood.”

One of my colleagues’ blog entries last month,  The Least Dangerous Assumption reminded me of Cynthia Tucker ‘s  column.  While Pam Treat Ulrich’s entry may have focused on students with disabilities as she applied the concept of least dangerous assumption, I also thought of our students from poverty and backgrounds where we may have preconceived assumptions of what that individual is capable or willing to do.  However, expectations and relationships are what research indicate are needed to assist our students from poverty.     Common Core Learning Standards outline a robust path for increasing expectations for all students.  New York State Education Commissioner regularly speaks of the path to college and career readiness.  We seem to have a path for expectations laid out for us.  But, in order to follow this path, there needs to be belief that we truly have high expectations for our students.  For without, a belief in the expectations, we as a system continue to contribute to the barriers mentioned by Cynthia Tucker.

Want to explore further regarding poverty and expectations? 

Educational Leadership, The Myth of the Culture of Poverty by Paul Gorski

What You Can Do for Students Living in Poverty by Julia Thompson

Aha Process features the work of Ruby Payne

Eric Jensen on Teaching Students with Poverty in Mind

Inside the Black Box of High-Performing  High-Poverty Schools, 2005

The take-away:  as educators we need to carefully examine our beliefs and actions regarding expectations for students.  Then plan supports based on student strengths.

How might OCM BOCES support your thinking and implementation of a classroom culture with high expectations for all students? 

Radicello_Lynn_WEBLynn Radicello

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