Five years ago my oldest son, Christian, was entering the 6th grade. It was a new school, in a new town. He had been having difficulties at the previous school such as bulling and lower grades. I requested that the bully be moved from the class my son was placed into with the kid that was known for bulling him. The school decided that since Christian had a stable living situation at home that it was better if he moved classrooms. Needless to say this was not okay with me and the bulling continued throughout the entire school year without the school intervening. We decided enough was enough. We moved back to my hometown.
Christian’s new teacher had a very different teaching style. She sets direct expectations of all the kids regardless of background, personality, or how smart or dumb the children think they are. They talk about strengths and weaknesses as well as what they want to accomplish in this school year.
The teacher did what I had seen no other teacher implement before, the theory of planned behavior. This theory is an account of behavior. “That predicts a person’s intention to behave in a particular manor.” (Schneider, 2012) She expects each student to behave in a certain manor and has high expectations set for not only their schoolwork but their behavior and achievements as well.
This makes the students perfectly aware of what others, the teacher, expects of them and how they should be motivated to fulfill with the expectations. (Schneider, 2012) When students understand what is expected of them and they are encouraged and rewarded for great achievement they then start to have faith and confidence in themselves.
This is exactly what happened with my son. Because of the bullying he had been dealing with the previous school year he had low self-esteem and didn’t believe that he could do the things she was talking about. However, with her motivation, high expectations and great leadership he flourished in and out of the classroom. He started doing better then ever in Math and fell in love with history. Her excitement for teaching and her encouragement in the classroom is like nothing I had encountered from a teacher before.
If teachers can set expectations and work with the children her classroom to get them to understand that they all have the capabilities to be great students then maybe far less children will get behind in the classroom. All too often teachers have already made up their minds about their students even before they step foot in the classroom. If the theory of planned behavior was implemented from the beginning of the year maybe this could lead to more students being motivated to please not only the teacher but themselves. In Christian’s case this made all the difference. He finally believed that he was capable of the things that were expected of him. Six years later he is graduating high school all because one teacher had high expectation (and encouragement from his parents).
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.