Teaching expectations with a simple example

Here is how I explain the importance of expectations to my students. Imagine two students walking into a math class. The first student expects to be bad at math. They say stuff like “I’m just bad at math” and “both of my parents hated math at school.” The second student expects to be good at math. 

During the same class, these students come upon a challenging problem. They cannot figure it out. I’ll ask my class how the two students will respond to the challenge.

How long does the first student work on the problem and then what do they do? Kids tell me they’ll work for 2-10 seconds and then complain. “I told you that I was bad with math,” “I don’t get it,” and “why do I need to do this?” They are then more likely to give up or cheat on the assignment. Not a lot of learning here.

The second student will work on that problem longer than the first one. If they are still confused, they’ll raise their hand, ask a neighbor, or check their notes. They won’t give up so easily. A kid who expects to be good at this works harder and will be better at math. The kid who expects to fail will stop at the first challenge. The kid who expects to succeed will work longer on that challenge, ask questions, and be better for it. 

Expect yourself to get much better at maker education. Expect your students to have awesome projects. Set your expectations high so that when things go poorly, you keep trying to improve. 

Understanding and changing our mindsets is the first step into better maker education. This chapter will go over more ideas for teachers and students to internalize. Our class wouldn’t work without our constant discussions on these topics.

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