High Expectations with Support

By on September 30, 2012

I remember thinking,“What does that mean? Do I do that?”
Focusing on high expectations with support caused me to change many aspects of my teaching practice. I quickly realized I couldn’t uphold high expectations and provide support without strong lesson plans. I also realized I needed the students to be involved and invested in the learning process. Just as a coach shares the game plan with his/her team, I needed to share the thinking and planning that went into the lesson with my students.

A sports team is comprised of hard working, self-directed players who listen and follow the coach’s orders. Sometimes the players can follow the plays without incident, but other times, they need to make decisions on their own and rely on the strategies they have learned. The same can be said about my classroom. I provide the “game plan”and together we analyze the “tape.” In this case, we reflect on what we have learned and identify what we still need to work on. By analyzing our weekly performance, we can take the necessary steps to improve each week.

Like all teams, my students prepare for the game--or the upcoming lesson. They go online and study the daily lesson plans that I have posted on my website. Each night, my students preview the lesson plan as a way to prepare for the day. They know they have to copy the daily notes before they enter the classroom. The daily notes describe the academic tasks, literacy skills, and support strategies they will use in class. They come to class ready to work and aware of the learning outcomes. This allows me to focus on setting and maintaining high expectations for their learning.

Giving students online access to daily lesson plans supports their learning in the following areas:

  • It promotes literacy. By previewing the lessons and taking notes, my students are reading and thinking. This engages them in extra reading.
  • It boosts confidence. Students know what is expected each day which boosts their confidence. They feel relaxed knowing that the expectations are clear.
  • It allows us to focus on critical thinking. The learning routines are defined and rehearsed so we can focus our energy on learning how to think critically.  For example, if the lesson plan calls for the students to summarize main ideas, they know to create a “Summary Chart” and use it while reading. This type of predictable learning environment allows my students to focus their time on critical thinking and problem solving.
  • It creates self-directed learners. Students learn to read and follow directions. Since this is an area students struggle with, it is something I emphasize. When they enter the room, they need to follow the lesson plan. If the plan directs them to begin in small groups, I expect them to form groups before the bell rings to start the class.

This type of learning environment where students are self-directed takes modeling and constant rehearsal. My students quickly learn that I expect excellence in all areas: academic work, behavior, and attitude. Setting this expectation is the easy part. Making sure students meet the expectation is where the hard work begins. My students try to resist at times, but I have learned to be persistent. Accountability is key.

Like a winning coach, my expectations are high and do not change. I must develop strong rapport with my students and encourage them along the way. Together, we work as a team and move toward success.

In the coming weeks, I plan to share more about the lesson planning process and how to maintain high expectations with support.

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Literacy Standards In Action

We've mapped our literacy lessons and reading, speaking, and writing skills to state standards, Common Core, and NGSS. The standards are "the what" to teach. Our lessons are "the how" to meet the expectations defined by the standards. Click on the links below to view our quick reference table that maps standards to literacy lessons.

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