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Expectations

October 9, 2006

Spent last Friday at Pierce College helping the staff there understand the new powerful tool they have in a College Publisher web site. They’ll launch this week.

challengeBut part of the day was spent talking with colleague Rob O’Neil about how much we can expect of students. I’ve been amazed over the years at the talent of students and how hard they will work for the student newspaper. When I started teaching I thought I was pushing students hard. But what I expect of them then was no where the expectation I have today.

Rob reminded me of a former Pierce teacher who was the mentor of the day back then, Tom Kramer, who must have challenged me to expect more from students.

Students are so capable of reaching new heights. And perhaps it is the teacher who unconsciously places limits on student achievement by not expecting much that fail to learn. Expect high standards. Expect students to continually learn new things. Trust them to implement them.

For instance, I do not copyedit the work of my students before they publish articles in the Talon Marks. I expect students to learn to copyedit their own stories. I’m there if they really need help. But they are so capable to doing it themselves if they realize that I’m not going to do for them automatically. Sure, they make mistakes from time to time. But we review those and try to help them from making the same kinds of mistakes later on.

Part of my teaching philosophy is to honor students for the work they do well, but then challenge them to work harder next time. I’m an old dinosaur, but I have so many more things to learn about the craft I teach. So I apply the philosophy to myself as well.

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