Expectations May Not Be Everything, but They Count for A Lot

01 Aug 2016, Posted by Sarina Simon in Adult Literacy, Learning Science, Teachers Who Never Give Up, Tutoring

Reach for The StarsUnfortunately we often read about teachers who have given up on students. Sometimes their motives are benign, but nonetheless damaging.  Take for example the teacher who worries too much about student self-esteem and does not offer challenging curriculum. Then there are those whose motives are not just misguided but downright disdainful–“these kids can’t learn,” “these kids don’t want to learn,” and so forth. Happily this post is not about those that give up, but instead about those that never give up.

Recently a friend (and former interviewee in this blog) sent me an email entitled “One of My Greatest Accomplishments” and though she has been an executive in media companies and is a published author, she was not referring to another business success.

Instead she was talking about a homework assignment completed by her 67 year old tutee who is no longer illiterate, thanks to her efforts.

Harold Jefferson Writing

Laura has been tutoring this student for several years and during that time she has often expressed doubts about whether she was making sufficient progress.  She tried many different methods but it sometimes seemed like it was one step forward and one step back. Still, she never gave up on him as so many people had done in the past.  Indeed, as a child he was told he’d be lucky to get any job some day. He was shuffled from family member to family member, from “state school” to orphanage and never learned to read.  But today, he can read and he has given her one her ‘Greatest Accomplishments.’  Could there be any greater reward?

I was once a teacher (in what seems like another lifetime).  And I know that it’s easy to get discouraged if your classes are overcrowded, kids are underfed, and administrators treat you just like you were another kid to keep in place.  I also know that tutoring one motivated individual is not the same as managing a classroom of kids.  Nevertheless, I see a connection here between Laura’s success and the multiple successes of so many hard working teachers and tutors we never get to read about—the ones that never give up!

Low expectations breed poor results, and high ones deliver amazing rewards.

So here’s a shout out to Laura and to all the teachers, tutors, parents, and friends who have high expectations and achieve stunning results. The moral of the story? Expect students to be able to learn and, lo and behold, they do!

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