A mashup of all things educational! From technology and social media to leadership and international education, this is where I will be reflecting and applying everything thing I learn from the web and my PLN. Join me on the adventure and add your opinion to the mix!

11 July 2011

0 Great (Education) Expectations

Expectations Vs. Reality

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about expectations.  There are a number of reasons why this has been occurring, but most likely it's because I actually have time to take a moment and reflect now that I have a few weeks off for my winter holidays (or North American summer holidays however you like to view it!).  With all of this reflecting, I've come a few conclusions about expectations and their implications in my professional contexts.  I've realised that it boils down to three types of problems that occur with expectations: too low, not clear, or too high.

Too low- I've been doing a lot of reflecting and thinking about change and how to encourage change in my work context (see my previous post on change here).  I've come to realise that we as educators have our expectations TOO LOW for our profession.  I cannot count the number of times that I have discussed WHY education doesn't seem to be changing to help our students gain the needed 21st century skills for the future and the answer I almost always receive is "change is slow in education."  I disagree. I don't think change is slow in education; I think we have our expectations too low for what we can do as a profession.  Plenty of other professions, business, health, marketing for example, change to accomodate the needs of their clients and customers in a timely manner... why can't we? It's not impossible.... I think "education" just accepts the status-quo that has been passed along for far too long.  We can change.  We should change.  We need to raise our expectations and expect that change to happen. Now.

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Not clear- I think this is the one I am the most guilty of.  For the teachers in my professional context, I think the expectation(s) may have been set, but such a long time ago that they are not as clear as they once were.  I believe that I, and the school as a whole, are guilty of not taking the time to revisit these expectations more often and discussing them in an open manner so that we are all more aware of what our expectations are and should be for the future.

Too high- I think education as a profession has its expectations too high for this new "connected generation" as they are sometimes called.  Just because these children are born into this technologically connected world, doesn't mean that they know how to use it wisely or appropriately.  While I am a strong advocate for encouraging students to help adults move more quickly into new technology tools, I believe that we as the professionals must still be the ones to model and show what the expectations of good technology practice are.  If we have our expectations of the students too high, then we run the risk of assuming that they don't need models or the opportunity to practice under guidance.  Perhaps this is why we are having so many blocked networks and banned sites when what we should really be doing is demonstrating the appropriate expectations for the students.

So, the mashup is this.... I plan on sharing my expectations with my staff when I return for the second half of our school year and make two things really clear:

  1. That we are expecting our teachers to actively change and improve their practice to align with 21st century skills that the students and teachers need for future success in a technological world
  2. That we will provide many opportunities in a variety of ways for our teachers to achieve the goal of continuous improvement in their professional practices
Unfortunately, I am still a way off from making any real gains in the area of unlocking our network but, rest assured, that is an expectation that I will try to address soon.

Have you found the same issues with expectations in your professional practice?  How were you able to raise or lower expectations to gain the change or performance that you were hoping for? 

Jessica :)

Photo source:  Bjornmeansbear


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